In-form batsmen lead Mumbai's charge against Royals
Match factsApril 17, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Except for their opening match, which they lost narrowly, Mumbai Indians have been living up to their reputation of a big-ticket team. Their opening combination still hasn't fired but then, these are men who have more than 60,000 international runs between them. If the match against Pune Warriors is any indication, Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting are finding their groove in the IPL.
To add to Rajasthan Royals' worries, Mumbai have perhaps the most formidable middle-order. Between them, Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard have scored 479 runs in the team's four matches and the Royals will have to dismiss them early to dominate the match. In the bowling department, with the hard pitch at Sawai Man Singh Stadium, Mumbai might ponder picking Munaf Patel or Jasprit Bumrah ahead of Pragyan Ojha, adding more power to the pace attack of Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson.
Royals have always punched above their weight and their record against Mumbai is not as one-sided as many would presume. Of the nine matches the teams have played, Royals have won four times. Their bowling won them the match against Kings XI Punjab and the onus on restricting Mumbai's powerhouse batting would again fall on Sreesanth, Siddharth Trivedi, James Faulkner and Kevon Cooper. Their batting in the last two matches - with a habit of losing wickets in clusters - is an area of concern. They made heavy weather of what should have been a straightforward chase against Kings XI and, although they huffed to a six-wicket win, against Mumbai's better bowling, that kind of batting would mean handing the match to Mumbai on a platter.
There's another undercurrent to this match - Sreesanth and Harbhajan will play against each other for the first time since the former revived the 'slapgate' episode on Twitter last week.
Players to watchJames Faulkner was the third-highest wicket-taker in the Sheffield Shield and did well with the bat, too. Watching him bowl to Ponting will be interesting given that the two play for Tasmania. He's batted at No.6 before and can be a good lower-order batsman for Royals.
On a wicket that's been friendly to pace bowlers, Lasith Malinga will be a handful for the Royals' batsmen. He's already on top of the bowling charts in the IPL with 85 wickets, but he doesn't have a great record against Royals, with seven wickets from seven matches at an average of 25.71. This match is a chance to change that statistic.
Stats and Trivia
- Rohit Sharma has scored the most runs for Mumbai against Royals. In 10 matches, he has scored 302 runs at an average of 33.55.
- Royals' wicketkeepers Sanju Samson and Dishant Yagnik are ranked second behind MS Dhoni in the list of wicketkeepers with the most dismissals in an innings in this season of the tournament.
- Royals have won 21 of their 31 home matches, a victory percentage of 67%. In the history of the IPL, that's second only to Chennai Super Kings' home record of 25 wins from 38 matches.
Quotes"We have been banking on our medium pacers... We hope they give us early break throughs and we are able to capitalise on it."
Rajasthan Royals' wicketkeeper Dishant Yagnik on the importance of their bowlers
Rachna Shetty is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo