Pride at stake for RCB against Mumbai Indians

With seven victories from its nine games, Rohit Sharma's MI is all but assured of a place in the last four. In fact, the team is competing for the top spot in the league table with the in-form Kolkata Knight Riders. On the other hand, Virat Kohli's Bangalore outfit has lost its hopes on making the cut for the last four, placed second from the bottom with five points from 10 games.

RCB has failed to live up to the expectations this season, with the team’s batting struggling.   -  AFP

For an Indian Premier League (IPL) fan, it is one of the most anticipated clashes of the summer extravaganza. No wonder then that it is the earliest sold out game every year, with the presence of monstrous hitters in the opposition line-up. However, on the eve of Mumbai Indians' clash with the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the most awaited face-off of the year has turned into one of the drabbest games to look out for.

When the Mumbai Indians scraped through to a victory against the Royal Challengers in Bengaluru a fortnight ago, neither team would have anticipated that the return leg would be played with little bearing over the Playoffs qualification.

With seven victories from its nine games, Rohit Sharma's MI is all but assured of a place in the last four. In fact, the team is competing for the top spot in the league table with the in-form Kolkata Knight Riders. On the other hand, Virat Kohli's Bangalore outfit has lost its hopes on making the cut for the last four, placed second from the bottom with five points from 10 games.

More than its seven losses, what has been dejecting for the Royal Challengers is the inability of its fancied batting line-up to cope with the pressure. Its last three totals are 57 all out (vs Kolkata Knight Riders), 134 all out (vs Gujarat Lions) and 96 for nine (vs Rising Pune Supergiant). When you see a team prioritising playing out its quota of 20 overs rather than going for the target – as was the case in Pune on Saturday – little has to be said about its form.

Chasing concerns for MI

Even the Mumbai Indians, who celebrated captain Rohit Sharma's 30th birthday on Sunday after returning to its base from Rajkot the previous night, would realise that standings aside, it needs to tick a few boxes as the death overs of the league stage begin. Jasprit Bumrah's stupendous super over may have helped Mumbai Indians earn the vital two points, still the chink s in Mumbai Indians' chasing abilities were exposed for the second time in succession.

Twice in five days did Mumbai Indians managed to dig a hole for itself while cruising towards the victory. The lower order crisis was evident on Saturday as Mumbai Indians lost five wickets in the last two overs in Rajkot. That coupled with Sharma's woes with the willow means MI has plenty of areas to improve on.

Those concerns are nothing as compared to Virat Kohli's, however. The RCB batting unit just hasn't recovered after being bowled out for the lowest ever total in IPL history in Kolkata last week. Kohli couldn't really lift the spirit – and performance – of his team-mates while facing a captain against whom the India captain was involved in a bitter Test series recently. It will be interesting to do so if he can turn the tide against a team led by his friend.