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Here is a side that is enjoying success. Here is a side that is no longer about individual performances. The Mumbai Indians are on a roll having won three out of the four matches played so far. Out of those three wins, two have been comprehensive victories in their own backyard. Sachin Tendulkar displayed his lethal self in the previous game and the young duo of Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma yet again showed they were ‘responsibility ready’ when the chips were down.
Not surprisingly Mumbai Indians’ coach John Wright is happy with the team’s performance. “We have been quite happy with our side. We lost the first game narrowly and have dominated in the last two games. To be honest we have a balanced side, the nature of T20 is that generally you have one or two dominant performances from either side and no matter how you match up on paper, it depends how we fare on match day. We know we have got match winners and so do our opposition. It will be an even contest. said Wright
Talking about their opposition, Wright was not willing to take the Royals lightly at home. The respect for the opposition came from Wright as he said, “I think they are a good side. They are playing at home and you have got to respect that. I think it will be a tough game. We are playing good cricket, but it is so important to take one game at a time. I think we have to prepare well for tomorrow and I believe it will be a tough match.”
Mumbai Indians’ last two games were at home that were big scoring games where teams got to 150 plus scores on both occasions. Now, facing the Royals at home, the wickets and the conditions will be different and adapting to them will be a big challenge according to Wright. “It looks a good wicket, perhaps a little movement in it early maybe. But having looked at the highlights of the previous match there were a lot of wickets that fell early in the match. They didn’t have a lot to do with the wicket; but it looks a good batting track. The boundaries are wide in this stadium which is a different challenge for us. Running between the wickets and fielding and adapting well here will be the key.”
Also, in the games so far, a lot has been spoken about the experienced duo of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting not able to fire with all guns blazing. Wright defended the senior pros saying they are still potential match winners for the side. “Sachin played really well in the last match and has been run out twice. Ricky is leading the side in a fantastic fashion and we know that form is temporary and class is permanent. They both are a big part of us. We do not look at averages and they are match winners and on their day they can go on and win the game for us.”
Two teams, equally high on confidence will be looking to better each other when they face off at the Sawai Mansingh stadium at Jaipur on Wednesday. Both Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians are coming off comprehensive victories and there is little to choose between these two sides as they meet for the first time in the competition.
Rajasthan Royals, the underdogs who have gone about doing their business rather silently in the tournament will be eager to get their noses ahead against a star studded Mumbai Indians line up. “We have been given the tag of underdogs, which will benefit us,” said Dishant Yagnik who addressed the press here at Jaipur.
“To upset any team in the tournament this tag will prove to be an advantage for us. We will play like underdogs with full of enthusiasm and commitment which will help us defeat a strong side like Mumbai Indians tomorrow,” added the wicket-keeper-batsman.
When asked if the Royals would be going into the game with a set plan against the Mumbai Indians, Yagnik said, “We will have a team meeting later in the day and we will have our own set of plans for the Mumbai Indians. We know Mumbai Indians are one of the strongest teams in the tournament and you need to play good cricket against them. We will device plans and will look forward to implementing them in the game.”
The Royals in their practice session did look charged up. The sun was beating hard; Rahul Dravid and Ajinky Rahane had long sessions in the middle batting in tandem, even as Shane Watson looked in the mood to send a few cricket balls outside the practice area. The buzz was however about Sreesanth who was nowhere to be seen in the nets. When asked about Sreesanth’s absence, Yagnik said “I guess it was an optional practice session for the medium pacers today; hence Sreesanth was missing in the training. Our fast bowlers have been training hard over the last few days and we want them to be fresh for our big game tomorrow.”
The Royals have played two games at home so far and have won both of them convincingly. Both the games did not see big scores, and Yagnik was happy that the wickets this time were competitive. “This year, you can see there are sporting wickets and it will be great if we get a wicket that will assist the batsmen and the bowlers equally. We believe our medium pace attack has been impressive in the games so far and will depend on it to deliver against MI.”
Yagnik missed the previous game against the Kings XI Punjab due to a groin injury and was replaced by young Sanju Samson who scored a 23 ball 27 in the Royals’ six wicket victory. Yagnik said he was slowly progressing towards complete fitness. “I have a groin strain, and since it’s a groin strain I will take close to three or four days to fully recover. I have kept well and had a batting session at the nets. I am progressing towards complete fitness. I am feeling fit at the moment.”