Supergiant looks to continue good record against MI

Whether it was in the first week of the tournament or when RPS hit a purple patch, Rohit Sharma's men ended up on the wrong side of the Maharashtra derby.

RPS is the only team Mumbai Indians has failed to beat in this IPL.   -  Vivek Bendre

Not many would have been surprised that the Mumbai Indians had sealed the top place in the league standings with a game in hand. However, not many would have predicted the second spot to be occupied by the other team from Maharashtra. In fact, on the back of the forgettable season it had last year, not many would have predicted Rising Pune Supergiant to even make the cut, let alone finish second.

But as the Supergiant contingent took another bus ride to Mumbai on Monday afternoon, the unit was thrilled to have ticked the first objective it had set for itself prior to the season. Even after losing Ben Stokes – the all-rounder who justified his whopping price tag with stellar performances with bat and ball – to national duty, the Pune outfit knows that it holds the physchological advantage over the Mumbai unit.

After all, it is the only team that the Mumbai Indians have failed to beat so far in IPL this season. Whether it was in the first week of the tournament or when RPS hit a purple patch, Rohit Sharma's men ended up on the wrong side of the Maharashtra derby. No wonder then that Ajinkya Rahane, the Mumbaikar who is one of the cogs of the Pune team, did his best to hint at Mumbai Indians being the team under pressure.

“I think it is a psychological advantage for sure but cricket is a game where what you do on the day matters. It is definitely an advantage that we have won two games against them but Mumbai is a very good team,” Rahane said on Sunday after the Supergiant sealed the place in play-offs with an emphatic win against Kings XI Punjab at home.

Home advantage

However, even Rahane conceded that facing Mumbai Indians at its den, the Wankhede Stadium, will be a daunting task. Ever since the IPL's inception, Mumbai Indians has a terrific record at home. The ongoing season has been no exception, with the team winning its last four home games.

Incidentally, its last loss at home was against the Supergiant, thus handing extra motivation for Rohit and Co. to set the record straight. More than avenging the two losses in the league stage, Mumbai Indians would be hoping to assure itself of a place in what could be its fourth appearance in an IPL final.

Just like Stokes, his England counterpart with Mumbai Indians, Jos Buttler, has also joined England's preparation for the Champions Trophy. But the Mumbai Indians won't feel much of his absence, having drafted Lendl Simmons in for the last four games.

While Mumbai Indians would be banking on familiarity of conditions, the Supergiant would be hoping for an IPL co-incidence to repeat this year as well. Ever since the introduction of the play-offs in 2011, teams finishing second in league stage have gone on to win the IPL until last year. Sunrisers Hyderabad bucked the trend in 2016, winning the tournament after finishing third. If it can beat Mumbai Indians against the odds on Sunday, the Pune outfit can certainly hope to reset the trend come Sunday.

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