Mumbai v Rajasthan, IPL, 2nd qualifier, Kolkata May 23, 2013

Troubled Royals aim to continue fairytale


Match facts

Friday, May 24, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)

Big picture

If Rajasthan Royals are able to produce two more good games, it will be a fairytale for them, according to their captain Rahul Dravid. In many ways, irrespective of what happens next, it is already a fairytale, one that has played out alongside a horrid nightmare during the past week. For a side like Royals to stand on par with and challenge the mightiest of IPL franchises, such as Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians, is nothing short of a fairytale.

Sanju Samson, Dishant Yagnik, Stuart Binny, Vikramjeet Malik, Pravin Tambe, and Siddharth Trivedi up against million-dollar superstars. Unknowns against men such as Lasith Malinga and Kieron Pollard, who have defined Twenty20 cricket. A think-tank of Dravid, Paddy Upton, Monty Desai, and Zubin Bharucha, against a think-tank of John Wright, Sachin Tendulkar, Ricky Ponting, Anil Kumble, Jonty Rhodes and Robin Singh. "We don't believe in having bowling and fielding coaches," Dravid said. Belief comes automatically when you can't afford to have the luxury of a bloated support staff.

Even in a format that reduces relative superiority due to its crunched length, the second qualifier looks like a no-contest. But this is a knockout bout. Players and sides do strange things under pressure, especially in T20. They do stranger things in a T20 knockout situation. Ask Mumbai Indians. It's a phenomenon that keeps getting stranger and stranger with every passing season: they are yet to win an IPL title in five previous attempts. Their embarrassment of riches somehow turns into a proper embarrassment come knockout time. The latest instance was the first qualifier against Super Kings two days ago.

Dravid was right when he said after winning the eliminator that the pressure was on Mumbai Indians. Royals have made the playoffs for the first time in five seasons. They had little to lose against Sunrisers Hyderabad, and they will have less to lose against Mumbai Indians, a side that will feel it has not done well if it does not win the title, according to Dravid. Not only was that a smart way of reminding the opposition of the cross of expectation they bear, it was also the bitter truth.

Still, if Mumbai Indians had been asked to pick an opponent in a knockout situation, they would probably have chosen Royals, and would probably hope they could play the match as if it was a regular league game.

Form guide

(Most recent first) Mumbai Indians LLWWW
Rajasthan Royals WLLWW

In the spotlight

Talent is supposed to meet opportunity in the IPL. The former word has become almost synonymous with Rohit Sharma, and the IPL is one place where he's delivered. With men such as Tendulkar and Ponting in the team, Rohit was handed the captaincy, and racked up win after win in the league stage. He also holed out at the first sign of pressure in the qualifier against Super Kings. Mumbai Indians will expect a much cooler head from their captain in the knockout.

There could have been a stage during the past week when Rahul Dravid would have wondered what had he done to face such adversity at the sunset of his career. "Like bereavement," he called it. When one ran into some Royals players at the Hyderabad airport last Sunday, you could see they weren't thinking about the eliminator in Delhi. All they wanted was to get away from the glare, back to base in Jaipur, and spend a few quiet days there. Dravid spoke of how the squad shared "a lot of emotions" during conversations. He would have been at the forefront of those talks. A reserved, private man going out of his comfort zone to ensure his players felt comfortable again. The poker face should be back on at Eden Gardens.

Stats and trivia

  • James Faulkner's 5 for 16 against Sunrisers in Hyderabad are the best figures this season. The next-best figures, 5 for 20, also belong to Faulkner, and also came against Sunrisers, in Jaipur.
  • Stuart Binny has bowled the most economical spell this season, 2-0-3-1, against Delhi Daredevils in Jaipur. Mitchell Johnson has the joint third most economical full spell, 4-0-8-2, against Pune Warriors in Pune.
  • This is the first time Lasith Malinga has conceded more than 400 runs in an IPL season
  • Rohit Sharma has had his most productive IPL season - 534 runs at a strike-rate of 134.84


"It was a very tough phase for us. It was a blow to the team. It's something I have never experienced anything like. It's like bereavement in some ways."
Rahul Dravid on the arrests of three of his players in the spot-fixing controversy

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Satish_Madhekar on May 24, 2013, 15:27 GMT

    Sachin must play today. Perhaps this is the last match for Mumbai Indians in 2013 IPL season and may be the last match for Sachin Tendulkar in IPL. We may not see him again in IPL.

  • ddr3 on May 24, 2013, 15:21 GMT

    What is up with this fairy-tale theory?

    Even MI has given it fact MI has been way more consistent a team than RR. And they deserve to win this year way more than RR!

    Too much Sympathy over Rahul i would say lol

  • jahangirmumbaifan on May 24, 2013, 14:57 GMT

    When the final cover taken off then why the toss is not happing. I am very excited about this match.

  • Kashi0127 on May 24, 2013, 14:52 GMT

    Very fitting that it is raining in Calcutta. Hope it rains for next 3 days and rest of IPL gets washed out

  • dummy4fb on May 24, 2013, 14:40 GMT

    we the crkt-lovers are waiting to watch a very beautiful match.both teams have grt players and match-winners like:pollard,malinga,johnson,dinesh(MI) and watson,faulkner,rahane,hodge(RR).but i think RR is littlte bit ahead bcoz of their nice of luck for both the teams.

  • PuranV on May 24, 2013, 14:35 GMT

    MI will have pressure, because they have spent lots on fielding, bowling etc. and also on different mentors oppose to RR. RR qualified for playoffs and qualifier 2 is more than enough than winning this game. RR won against all the teams at least once that is important at this moment. Anyway I wish them good luck to Dravid and his team.

  • Viiki619 on May 24, 2013, 14:17 GMT

    Perhaps RR is not an underdog team but it is definitely an underrated team.The only thing everyone see in RR's victories is Watson but he got only 3-4 MOMs but he can win single handedly but they fail to see the efforts of players like Trivedi,Cooper,Binny,etc that is the reason they are underrated.RR back bone lies in their think tank of Suporting staffs,coaches and Dravid definitely because they chose the right combination of fresh ones and foreign players.Moreover they showed that nothing can hurt a team if you are playing as a one.

  • dummy4fb on May 24, 2013, 13:56 GMT

    MI is underdogs royal is champ

  • dummy4fb on May 24, 2013, 13:49 GMT

    Sadly, It's all down to 2 teams in qualifier 2 with 2 players I like most (Dravid & Sachin) playing against each other for the 2nd spot in finals... Hmm, Let the 2 legends play good innings infact great innings and RR win ;-)

  • Cricinfouser on May 24, 2013, 13:48 GMT

    The pepole criticizing Sanju Samson is so annoying.. The guys is jst 18 give him a break & leave him alone & then watch !!