Mumbai face tough test of form
Match factsWednesday, May 7, 2008
Start time 20.00 (local), 14.30 (GMT)
The Big PictureIt will be a match between the Invincibles and the Resurgents. After one blip, the Rajasthan Royals haven't looked capable of putting a foot wrong while the Mumbai Indians, who looked set to sink after four straight losses, have managed to turn the tide. But what could have been the showpiece of the tournament will not materialise, not yet at least: Sachin Tendulkar, yet to play a match in the IPL due to groin injury, won't be squaring up against Shane Warne.
Yet Mumbai, after back-to-back wins, will approach the match with belief and confidence. After appearing rudderless in the initial matches, they were led from the front by Shaun Pollock in their spectacular come-from-behind win against the Delhi Daredevils. Pollock seems to be easing into captaincy and grasping the strengths and weaknesses of his side.
Batting, though, remains Mumbai's major weakness. Dwayne Bravo's 64 has been the lone match-winning innings, and it is also the only half-century recorded by a Mumbai batsman. Sanath Jayasuriya and Robin Uthappa, of whom much was expected, have disappointed. A casual attitude and lack of patience have been the features of their batting, leading to an absence of partnerships. They have their task cut out against a resourceful bowling attack, cannily led by Warne.
If Rajasthan have to guard against anything, it is the possibility of an off-day. Every trick they have tried has worked so far has worked like a dream. Warne has promised more surprises, and be sure that he will be up to something. Apart from carrying some momentum in to the match, Mumbai would also hoping that the law of averages catches with the old geezer.
Tournament positionMumbai Indians P6 W/L2/4 NRR -0.889
Rajasthan Royals P6 W/L5/1 NRR +0.873
IPL form (last five matches)Mumbai Indians LLLWW
Rajasthan Royals WWWWW
Watch out for ...
Team newsTendulkar batted close to 20 minutes in the nets but has decided to extend his recovery period by another week, which means he could be back for their next game, on May 14. Pollock indicated that Mumbai are likely to retain the winning unit even if there were concerns about Abhishek Nayar, the big-hitting allrounder, who is suffering from a side strain. But he has almost been playing as a specialist batsman and Pollock said they were going to treat him that way.
Mumbai(probable) :1 Shaun Pollock (captain), 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Dwayne Bravo, 5 Dominic Thornely, 6 Yogesh Takawale (wk), 7 Abhishek Nayar, 8 Rohan Raje, 9 Saurabh Tiwari, 10 Dhawal Kulkarni, 11 Ashish Nehra.
Ten Rajasthan players opted out of the optional practice session held at the Bandra Kurla grounds and none of them was a foreigner. A relaxed Warne said that even though the team was on a high after five straight victories, he was not allowing anyone to get the "foot off the pedal". He also said that to reach the semis the team needed about seven to eight victories, perhaps suggesting he would retain the side that he has kept unchanged for the last two games.
Rajasthan (probable): 1 Shane Warne (captain), 2 Graeme Smith, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Swapnil Asnodkar, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Mohammad Kaif, 7 Ravindra Jadeja, 8 Mahesh Rawat (wk), 9 Sohail Tanvir, 10 Siddharth Trivedi, 11 Munaf Patel
Stats and trivia
Quotes"We think 7 to 8 wins would clinch a fourth semis spot, so we need to win our next 2-3 games. We are in pretty good shape, but we don't want to take foot off the pedal. I've got a few surprises for them tomorrow. It could be fun if they come off."
Shane Warne, Rajasthan's captain
"Every game is crucial for us now as we did not get off to a great start. We need to get two wins under the belt and we need to keep confidence and momentum going. Rajasthan Royals are on a high having won five games in a row and they are the form side of the tournament so it's a big as for us to win. They understand each other, they know what their role are so they are the team to beat.."
Shaun Pollock, Mumbai's captain
Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at Cricinfo