IPL 2018: Resurgent MI faces RR

Mumbai Indians seems to have turned the tide after its insipid start to the season; it will look to sustain the momentum against a potent Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede Stadium.

Mumbai Indians has leapt to fourth in the points table after three wins in a row.   -  K. R. Deepak

Minutes before twilight on Saturday, the first batch of Mumbai Indians arrived at the Wankhede Stadium in their training outfit to prepare for a skirmish against Rajasthan Royals in a vital league match of the Indian Premier League on Sunday.

The three-time winner of the league leaves nothing to chance and goes about its business of gearing up for a task in hand in a most meticulous manner with its full support staff overseeing the batting, bowling and fielding activities around a centre square that has four nets.

 

As has been the practice, after the first batch is put through the routine for a little over an hour, the second batch, comprising the big guns of the team, take charge of the practice area. The effort put in by the two batches takes around three hours. It is this sort of exacting regimen that has shaped the fortunes of the team in the last 10 years and it has been no different this season.

Turning the tide

The team in its new blue and gold jersey may have appeared luckless and listless for a little over three weeks, but the uncompromising approach at the training sessions has helped the team win the last three matches. It now has a chance to make the playoffs, a prospect that had looked highly doubtful after its 14-run defeat to Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Bangalore on May 1.

Suryakumar Yadav has been prolific up the order for Mumbai Indians. Photo: AP

 

The defeat against RCB left MI with a mere four points from eight matches and a smidgen of hope, but three wins in as many thereafter — against Kings XI Punjab in Indore and against Kolkata Knight Riders (twice) — has seen it occupy the fourth position for a few days. It is high on confidence too, after having won its 11th league match at the Eden Gardens by a whopping 102 runs.

In-form Yadav

Playing his first full season for MI — he had turned out for MI in one match six years ago — Suryakumar Yadav has more than justified the franchise’s faith in him. He has scored 435 runs (364 as an opener in nine innings) and has been chiefly instrumental in getting runs in the Power Play overs. West Indian Evin Lewis has played a few aggressive knocks, but with only three matches remaining, MI would look for substance from the rest of its batsmen, mainly from skipper Rohit Sharma.

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With five wins and ten points, MI cannot afford to lose a match with the race for the top four, specifically for the No. 3 and 4 slots, becoming tighter by the day.

 

If the fortunes of MI have dramatically changed in the last week, they has been much the same for Rajasthan Royals. The swashbuckling Englishman Jos Buttler has been the catalyst of Rajasthan Royals’ turnaround. The wicketkeeper-batsman ran up scores of 67, 51, 82 and 95 not out in the last four matches and singlehandedly won his side the last two matches, including against Chennai Super Kings on Friday.

Royals has 10 points with an inferior net run-rate. A win for either team will not yet guarantee a playoff spot, but would get the side closer to it.

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