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The Preview by Anuj Vignesh
May 18, 2014
Prasad: Won't be a cakewalk for Royals
Monday, May 19, 2014
Start time 1600 local (1030 GMT)
After 10 group games last year, Mumbai Indians were on the verge of making the playoffs having secured their seventh win of the season. They had just handed the table toppers Chennai Super Kings a 60-run thrashing at home, and would go on to lose just two more games, claiming, in the process, their maiden IPL crown. After 10 games this year, the defending champions are rooted near the bottom of the table with just three victories. One more loss and they are out of the race this year.
Mumbai's problems this season have been well documented. The likes of Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu have only fired sporadically and on the bowling front, the wicket-taking responsibilities have been thrust solely on the shoulders of Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh - the pair has 24 scalps between them while the rest of the team combined have managed only 18.
Mumbai now need to win all their games and hope for other results to go their way if they are to advance to the playoffs, but the first obstacle in their way is a Rajasthan Royals outfit comfortably placed at the opposite end of the table. Royals have mostly stuck with the same combination this season, with most of their victories being built on the back of suffocating spells from Rajat Bhatia and Pravin Tambe. However, their successful chase of 191 against Royal Challengers pointed to an equally potent batting line-up.
Mumbai and Royals are both coming off recent defeats in the final over to Super Kings, but the loss would have hurt Mumbai a lot more as it snapped a 10-match winning run at home, putting them in a position where it is now all or nothing.
If there is one positive for Mumbai though, they did emerge victorious the last time they faced off against Royals, in the 2013 Champions League Twenty20 final.
Form Guide (most recent first)
Rajasthan Royals: WLWLW
Mumbai Indians: LWLWW
Where they stand
Rajasthan Royals: Third, with seven wins from 11 games
Mumbai Indians: Seventh, with three wins from 10 games
Watch out for
Mumbai Indians paid big money ($750,000) for Corey Anderson's services, but the New Zealand allrounder has looked lost in most of his outings this season. With just 150 runs and four wickets from 10 innings, Anderson has, in all likelihood, four matches left to prove to his detractors that the 36-ball 100 against West Indies - the fastest century in ODI history - was not a one-off.
Sanju Samson has been reliable behind the stumps with the gloves and also contributed with the bat whenever called upon, though he would ideally like to score more runs. Samson is currently the team's second-highest run-getter, and the last time he faced off against Mumbai, he thumped 60 off 33 balls, albeit in a losing cause. Royals would hope for more of the same from him as they edge closer towards the playoffs.
Stats and trivia
"I wouldn't say I am a specialist batsman. At the moment I haven't bowled at all in this tournament. But you never know, at times I might get called upon and take a few wickets and keep the runs to the minimum."
Steven Smith reveals he could bolster the Royals' already strong bowling unit
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala