Mumbai Indians v Royal Challengers Bangalore, IPL, Johannesburg May 2, 2009

Resurgent Bangalore seek third straight win

Match facts

May 3, 2009
Start time 16.45 (14.45GMT)

Big Picture

The fight for places in the middle of the league is heating up as the 2009 season of the IPL moves towards its second half. The increased competition for semi-final berths is largely due to Kings XI Punjab and Royal Challengers Bangalore recovering from poor starts in the tournament. Bangalore have strung together two consecutive victories, after four defeats in a row, but their push for a hat-trick of wins will be against tough opposition. The Mumbai Indians are currently third in the tournament with three wins out of six games (one washout). Bangalore have three out of seven matches and a victory at the Wanderers will take them into the top half of the league.

Bangalore scrapped hard for their victories but those wins were largely due to their bowlers who restricted Kolkata Knight Riders to 139 and Punjab to 137. A misfiring top-order, the problem that led to Bangalore's terrible start to the season, still remained. Jesse Ryder and Robin Uthappa have been the biggest disappointments with the bat and they were 84 for 6 at one stage against Punjab. Bangalore's shaky batsmen will face one of their toughest tests against Mumbai's bowling attack, which is led by Lasith Malinga, the best bowler of the tournament so far, and Zaheer Khan, who found form in his last outing against Kolkata.

Mumbai are a formidable all-round team but while their bowlers are in prime form, their batsmen have slipped in the last two games. Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya have failed twice in a row after the Kolkata massacre in Port Elizabeth: Mumbai failed to chase 120 against Punjab and needed JP Duminy to rescue them from 96 for 5 against Kolkata.

Form guide (completed matches, most recent first)

Mumbai Indians - WLWLW

Tendulkar and Jayasuriya are Mumbai's biggest stars but their best batsman has been Duminy with scores of 9, 47, 18 not out, 59 and 52. Tendulkar's their highest runscorer with 198 runs in five innings but Jayasuriya has a disappointing average of only 17. Malinga has been a class apart with the ball, with 11 wickets and an economy of 4.36. Their two other main bowlers - Zaheer and Harbhajan Singh - have also conceded less than seven runs an over.

Royal Challengers Bangalore - WWLLL

Bangalore don't have a consistent performer with the bat - Jacques Kallis is their top-scorer with 151 runs in six innings - and have relied on several small contributions for their totals. Roelof van der Merwe, however, provides them with a power-hitting option in the lower-order but he ideally needs a platform to launch from. Kumble has been Bangalore's stand-out bowler with ten wickets in seven games with an economy-rate of 5.59.

Watch out for

Roelof van der Merwe v Lasith Malinga: Don't expect orthodox strokes from van der Merwe. He prefers to clear his front foot out of the way and send the ball soaring over long-off and point while appearing to hit towards leg. If he misses, however, Malinga's low and deadly accurate yorkers will nail him.

Team news

Ryder's continuing struggle for runs could prompt Bangalore into bringing back Dale Steyn to bolster the pace attack, which had no genuinely quick bowlers in the previous game. With van der Merwe proving competent with the ball, KP Appanna's place could also come under scrutiny if the track isn't spinner-friendly.

Bangalore 1 Robin Uthappa, 2 Sreevats Goswami, 3 Jacques Kallis, 4 Virat Kohli, 5 Rajesh Bishnoi, 6 Mark Boucher (wk), 7 Roelof van der Merwe, 8 Praveen Kumar, 9 Anil Kumble (capt), 10 Dale Steyn, 11 KP Appanna

The only change Mumbai are likely to consider is whether to bring back Dwayne Bravo, who was rested in the last game, instead of Graham Napier, who has returned to England.

Mumbai 1 Sachin Tendulkar (capt), 2 Sanath Jayasuriya, 3 Ajinkya Rahane, 4 JP Duminy, 5 Abhishek Nayar, 6 Dwayne Bravo, 7 Saurabh Tiwary, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Pinah Shah (wk), 11 Lasith Malinga

Head-to-head record

Both Mumbai and Bangalore had dismal campaigns last season, and they split their two games in 2008. Bangalore won the first match at the Wankhede by five wickets, and Mumbai crushed Bangalore in the return leg by nine wickets at the Chinnaswamy Stadium.

George Binoy is a senior sub-editor at Cricinfo