Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 23 May 2013 - 09:26pm IST
Preview : Qualifier 2 – RR vs MI
Inspired RR, mighty MI clash for berth in final
The Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals compete in Qualifier 2 of the Pepsi IPL 2013 to determine who goes through to the title-clash against the Chennai Super Kings to be played on May 26.
By virtue of finishing among the top two teams in the regular league season, the Mumbai Indians (who lost to the Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 1) have a second chance of progressing to the final. The Mumbai Indians are a formidable side. But the manner in which they were blown away by the Chennai Super Kings in the previous match just goes to show how vulnerable they too can be under pressure. MI were cruising in their chase of 193 before they lost nine wickets for 57 runs.
MI have finished among the top four teams in each of the last three seasons, but have not been able to lay their hands on the IPL Trophy; they will be hoping to go the distance this time around. For that to happen, they need to get the better of the Rajasthan Royals, who started as a largely un-fancied team but have punched above their weight to cause upsets time and again. Rahul Dravid has been inspirational as captain, and just the way the players have rallied around him has been heartening to see. Despite some turbulent times recently, RR must be silently confident – given the manner in which they converted a lost-cause to a victory against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Eliminator.
Mumbai Indians start favourites – given they have several match-winners, class and experience. Dravid agreed too; “Mumbai are never easy, they are a very good side. There are all stars. There's nothing to lose for us, we go out there, have some fun and see what happens,” he told the media at the post-match press conference after the win over SRH.
Friday, May 24, 2013, 8 p.m
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Mumbai Indians are likely to be boosted by the return of Sachin Tendulkar who missed the last three matches with an injury. For MI to do well in this match, they will need big runs – possibly a three-figure score - from one of Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma or Dinesh Karthik, and hope for Dwayne Smith and Kieron Pollard to play the impact innings. Though the Mumbai Indians have done well under Rohit Sharma’s captaincy, the 26-year old has scored only one half-century in 11 matches as skipper. Will he be able to lift his game in this all-important match remains to be seen.
Just how influential is Rajasthan Royals’ top-order? In eight of their eleven victories this season, one of Rahul Dravid, Ajinkya Rahane or Shane Watson – who generally bat in the top three - has been top-scorer. In this high-pressure match, they will be expected to soak in as much of the pressure as possible and deliver the goods for the team. Do not discount the likes of Stuart Binny and Brad Hodge, who have put their hands up and scored runs at crucial junctures too.
The wheels came off the Mumbai Indians bowling attack in the previous match against CSK; Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga – the two strike-bowlers in the line-up – finished wicket-less and conceded plenty of runs. Though the spotlight will be on the spin-duo of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha – given the spinner-friendly surface one is likely to come across at the Eden Gardens – it is important that Johnson and Malinga keep the runs down.
Given the lack of options in the spin-bowling department, RR will bank on James Faulkner, Shane Watson, Siddharth Trivedi and Vikramjeet Malik to do the bulk of the damage and hope the likes of Kevon Cooper, Stuart Binny and Brad Hodge bowl some tidy overs.
The Mumbai Indians have won six of their 12 previous matches against the Rajasthan Royals (which includes one washed out encounter in Durban in 2009).
Both teams held their respective home games when they met earlier this season.
RR won their home game by a whopping 87 runs to hand Mumbai Indians their biggest defeat in the IPL. MI settled scores when they played host on May 15, defeating the Royals by 14 runs.
The Mumbai Indians have hit the most sixes of all teams this season – 108. In six matches under Ricky Ponting, Rohit Sharma scored three half-centuries. However, in 11 innings as captain, he has managed only one half-century. Rajasthan Royals have effected the most run outs this season – 14. The team chasing has won five of the six matches played at the Eden Gardens this season. The Rajasthan Royals have been successful in eight of their 10 run-chases this season, while MI managed to win three of their seven run-chases.
The winner of this match will set up a meeting with the Chennai Super Kings in the final of Pepsi IPL 2013 (at Kolkata on May 26) while it will be the end of the road for the losers of this match.