It may be a clash between the most stable unit of the Indian Premier League’s 2020 edition versus one that’s far from having figured out its best combination. Still, in no way will table-topper Mumbai Indians will take Rajasthan Royals lightly when the teams square off on Tuesday night.
After all, if there’s one bogey team for the defending champion in the IPL in the recent past, it’s Rajasthan Royals. The last four meetings between the two sides have all gone in favour of the Royals. It has also resulted in the overall IPL head-to-head record between the outfits at 10 wins apiece.
Add to the fact that Steve Smith, the Rajasthan Royals captain, has had the best as a batsman against Mumbai Indians and the Royals will be upbeat to make it five wins in a row against the most successful IPL franchise.
However, if the first fortnight is an indication, the road will be much tougher than anticipated. After all, the Royals batsmen, especially the middle-order triumvirate of Sanju Samson, Robin Uthappa and Riyan Parag – if all three are persisted with – will have their task cut out against a well-oiled MI bowling attack.
While Samson hasn’t been able to replicate his stupendous start to the tournament once the Royals moved away from Sharjah. Uthappa and Riyan have been far from being reliable, thus leaving the Royals lower order too much to deliver along with Smith and Jos Buttler at the top.
With allrounder Ben Stokes, serving mandatory quarantine after arriving in UAE last week, still unavailable, it is high time Uthappa takes the onus if the Royals is to maintain a clean slate against MI for the third year in succession.
The key men
Despite Jofra Archer being lethal at the death, Royals have been the worst performers in the Powerplay, picking just two wickets in four games so far. It would mean that Archer’s contest with fellow Protean Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma could prove to be decisive. Unless Royals strike early, they will find it difficult to contain the big-hitting troika of the Pandya brothers and Kieron Pollard, who even in this season have continued to bat the oppositions out of the game.
Game: MI v RR
Date: October 6, 2020 – Tuesday
Time: 7.30 p.m. IST
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi