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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 The Protagonists
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.
Kings XI Punjab have the chance to make Pepsi IPL 2014 their best ever season in the competition when they take on the Delhi Daredevils in the penultimate match of the league stage.
KXIP have won 10 of their 13 league matches so far – which equals their best performance in a season. In their most recent outing, against the Rajasthan Royals, despite the absence of two of their top players – Glenn Maxwell and Sandeep Sharma – KXIP registered a convincing 16-run win.
Delhi Daredevils, meanwhile, lost their eighth successive match when they lost against the Mumbai Indians in their previous outing. After bowling out MI for 173, DD found no momentum in their run-chase and finished 16 runs short. What was intriguing about DD’s run-chase was they had specialist batsmen at the crease for the entire duration of the run-chase – during which they lost only four wickets – and yet could not force the issue.
Sunday, May 25, 2014, 4 pm IST
Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali
Glenn Maxwell has scored 34 percent more runs than KXIP’s second-highest run-getter. It is therefore no surprise that there will be plenty of eyeballs following him and there will be pressure on him to deliver. There’s this theory doing the rounds that he has a weakness against leg-spinners, after he’s been dismissed by that tribe of bowlers in his last five outings. However, the Australian was quick to dismiss the same saying that although he’d been dismissed by leg-spinners, he’d also scored at more than two runs a ball. On the bowling front, KXIP will need Sandeep Sharma to strike early; the 21-year-old struggled to swing the ball in his previous match – perhaps due to fatigue – and was given a break in his team’s previous match.
Delhi Daredevils are definitely a better batting side when compared to the resources they have in the bowling department. Their line-up has several batsmen who’ve achieved a lot of success at the international level. But the two players capable of running away with the game are skipper Kevin Pietersen and JP Duminy. Pietersen has played cameos in his role as opener, but needs to carry on and get a big score, while Duminy has flourished in the second-half of the innings.
Notes from the previous match Kings XI Punjab v Rajasthan Royals: Though the set batsmen did not carry on to post big scores, KXIP will take heart from the fact that every batsman hit the ball well and scored runs. On the bowling front, the bowlers bowled tidy lines and lengths – especially in the middle period when the RR batsmen found the boundary only once and added only 48 runs to the scoreboard. The ground fielding and catching was impressive too; despite having the luxury of defending 179 runs, the fielders did not let up, often diving and cutting off runs in the outfield. By conservative estimates, KXIP saved at least 15 runs in the field. The only concern for KXIP was the form of Beuran Hendricks, who bowled either too full or too short and was taken for plenty of runs. Delhi Daredevils v Mumbai Indians: On the field, DD did a fairly good job in pulling back their opponents, who had raced away to 100 after 10 overs. To pick up nine wickets in the second-half of the innings and concede only 73 runs was a feat that needs to be applauded. More so because this was the first time DD had dismissed an entire side this season. On the batting front, the batsmen just didn’t take enough chances; there were six overs in DD’s run-chase in which four or fewer runs were scored. DD could not afford so many quiet overs, especially given the asking rate was 8.88.
Kings XI Punjab have won 8 of the 13 matches they’ve played against the Delhi Daredevils so far in the IPL. In the most recent meeting, at Delhi’s Ferozeshah Kotla, they humbled the hosts by four wickets, as they chased down 165 in the final over.
At a stage when all teams have played 13 matches each, Kings XI Punjab have scored more runs (2308) and taken more wickets (81) than any other side.
Kings XI Punjab hold the record for the best batting performance in the powerplay overs this season; they scored 86 runs in their match against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Kings XI Punjab, who have already progressed to the Playoffs, await to know their opponent in the first of the Playoff matches – Qualifier 1, which is scheduled to be played at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata on May 27. For the Delhi Daredevils, this is the end of the road; for the second consecutive season, they’ve finished at the bottom of the table and will go back to the drawing board, hoping to come back a better side next season.