Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 24 May 2014 - 05:16pm IST
Preview: Match 56 – MI v RR
Battle of the Blues to reveal last piece in the Playoffs puzzle
Match 56 of Pepsi IPL 2014, perhaps the most crucial match of the league stage. Mumbai Indians take on Rajasthan Royals in the final league fixture of the season.
The equation is pretty straightforward. A victory for the Rajasthan Royals will mean they sail through to the Playoffs, while a convincing win for the Mumbai Indians – with a margin that will nudge their net run-rate above Rajasthan Royals’ – will catapult them into fourth place in the standings.
Mumbai Indians have faced a do-or-die situation in their last few matches. That they are still alive in the race for the fourth Playoffs spot speaks volumes about the passion, ability and hunger within the team. The defending champions defeated Delhi Daredevils, Kings XI Punjab and Rajasthan Royals in their last three matches – each of these wins was convincing. MI definitely head into this match as favourites.
Rajasthan Royals, meanwhile, have been perched in the top half of the table for most part of the season. However, the team hasn’t sustained the momentum as it did in the middle part of the season, resulting in the gap between them and the rest of the teams narrowing down. In their most recent outing, they fell short of 180-run target set by Kings XI Punjab by 16 runs.
Sunday, May 25, 2014, 8 pm IST
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
With their diminished bowling attack, the focus will be on Mumbai Indians’ batting line-up to win them the match. The right-left opening pair of Lendl Simmons and Michael Hussey will be expected to set up a platform from which the likes of Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard can launch. That 14 of Hussey’s 15 50-plus scores in the IPL have resulted in wins for his team illustrates the kind of impact he can have on the match.
The first thing Rajasthan Royals need to get right is making best use of their resources. Either Ajinkya Rahane or Shane Watson needs to bat well into the second half of the innings. Further, the more overs the likes of Steve Smith, Brad Hodge and James Faulkner bat out, the better it is for their team.
Notes from previous match
Mumbai Indians v Delhi Daredevils: The margin of MI’s win – 15 runs – doesn’t paint how good they were with the ball and how poor they were with the bat in the second half of their innings. From 120/1 after 11.5 overs, MI were bowled out for 173, not even batting their entire quota of 20 overs. Shot selection by the batsmen and running between the wickets in the second half of the innings left a lot to be desired. With the ball, the MI bowlers ensured the pressure was on the DD batsmen, especially in the middle overs when they conceded only 58 runs during a nine-over period.
Rajasthan Royals v Kings XI Punjab: The one area of concern for Rajasthan Royals right through the season has been their death bowling. That problem hurt them yet again in this match when the last three overs cost them 46 runs. On the batting front, the team didn’t effectively make use of their resources; proven match-winners like Brad Hodge and James Faulkner were used at No.7 and 8 respectively, when the required rate had already hit the roof.
The Mumbai Indians have won 8 of their 13 matches against the Rajasthan Royals. In the five meetings between the two teams in Mumbai – played at three different venues (Wankhede Stadium, Brabourne Stadium and DY Patil Stadium) – the Mumbai Indians have a 4-1 win-loss record.
In the most recent meeting between the two teams – in Ahmedabad on 19 May 2014 – MI posted 178/3 (riding on a 120-run opening partnership between Lendl Simmons and Michael Hussey, and a late charge by Rohit Sharma) and then restricted the hosts to 153/8.
Shane Watson has opted to field first in 6 of the 8 matches where he has won the toss this season.
The surface at Wankhede Stadium has changed a lot in recent times. In the last 12 matches played at the venue, 9 have been won by the team batting first. In 12 matches prior to that, 8 were won by the team chasing.
The result from this match will determine the future of these two teams. If the Rajasthan Royals win this match, they will sail through to the Playoffs, while Mumbai Indians will progress to the Playoffs if they manage to defeat RR with a margin sufficient enough to take them to fourth place in the standings.