Mumbai Indians is back to its ruthless best and that is surely not good news for Rajasthan Royals, which desperately needs to win Sunday's IPL encounter at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.
The absence of captain Rohit Sharma was hardly felt in Mumbai's annihilation of Chennai Super Kings at Sharjah on Friday. Royals, on the other hand, had an eminently forgettable outing against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Mumbai Indians is on top of the table with 14 points and thus is virtually assured of a place in the playoffs, while Royals has to win this game and the two of its remaining ones. It is a tough ask, yes.
But, Royals is well-equipped with players to take on the challenge. Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Steve Smith and Sanju Samson are all wonderful cricketers, but among them only one has been able to set the tournament on fire. Archer has been brilliant with the ball – fast, skillful and accurate – and more than useful with the bat.
Royals needs him to continue to strike early, to put the Mumbai top-order under some pressure. However, the England quick hasn't got the support from the other bowlers on a consistent basis.
Promising seamer Kartik Tyagi and the leg-spin pair of Shreyas Gopal and Rahul Tewatia, who has been magnificent as an all-rounder, have done fairly well. But the fact is, the bowling has to be sharper for Royals in the last lap of the league phase.
Batting hasn't delivered either, despite having the big names in its ranks. Buttler isn't anywhere close to last year's form, Samson and Smith have struggled after beginning the tournament so well, and Stokes hasn't made his runs briskly enough at the top. The only silver lining has been Robin Uthappa's form after being moved up to the opening position.
The Royals' top-order also has to negotiate one of the most lethal new-ball attacks in the competition -- in-form Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, who blew CSK away in no time. Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar has also proved to be a difficult customer.
On the batting front for Mumbai -- Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya have all contributed, and if Rohit returns, the job will become even more tougher for the Royals bowlers.
Steve Smith (captain), Jos Buttler (Wicketkeeper), Sanju Samson, Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, Robin Uthappa, David Miller, Ankit Rajpoot, Mahipal Lomror, Manan Vohra, Riyan Parag, Mayank Markande, Shreyas Gopal, Varun Aaron, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Akash Singh, Oshane Thomas, Andrew Tye, Rahul Tewatia, Shashank Singh, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anirudha Joshi, Tom Curran and Anuj Rawat
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), Digvijay Deshmukh, Aditya Tare (wk), Saurabh Tiwary, Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Rahul Chahar, Chris Lynn, Hardik Pandya, Sherfane Rutherford, Anmolpreet Singh, Mohsin Khan, Mitchell McClenaghan, Prince Balwant Rai, Anukul Roy, Ishan Kishan, Dhawal Kulkarni, Trent Boult, Jayant Yadav, Suryakumar Yadav, Nathan Coulter-Nile and James Pattinson.
Game No. 45: Mumbai Indians vs Rajasthan Royals
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium
Date: October 25, Sunday
Time: 7:30 p.m.
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