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Preview: M36 - RR vs MI

The Mumbai Indians have an opportunity to climb to the top of the VIVO IPL 2019 standings for the first time when they clash with the Rajasthan Royals

What

The Mumbai Indians have an opportunity to climb to the top of the VIVO IPL 2019 standings for the first time when they clash with the Rajasthan Royals in Match 36.

MI, usually slow starters, have begun this season strongly winning six of their nine matches. Rohit Sharma’s side has won five of their last six matches; that one loss was to the Rajasthan Royals at home, and they have an opportunity to settle scores in this match.

MI are closer to the top without playing their best cricket yet. However, they’re getting better with each passing match, and that can only serve as a huge warning to their opponents.

The Rajasthan Royals lie closer to the bottom of the table with just two wins from eight matches. One more loss and their chances of progressing to the playoffs will be reduced to a mathematical equation. The Royals have had several opportunities, but it has been a story of the team not capitalising the chances and grabbing those critical moments. Look at the margin of defeats in 4 of their 5 losses: 14 runs, 8 runs, 12 runs and in one instance their opponent chased down the runs off the last ball. If they had done the small things better, or clinched the critical moments, at least a couple of those losses could have been wins.

Coach Paddy Upton has reportedly observed that his side is not clicking as a unit; he couldn’t be far from the truth. The Royals’ journey so far has been about three individuals really; Jos Buttler has been a consistent performer with the bat, while Jofra Archer and Shreyas Gopal have shone with the ball. Other than them, there’s only been the occasional contribution from the rest – Sanju Samson’s hundred against SRH, Ajinkya Rahane’s 78 against SRH and his 37 against MI, and Stuart Binny’s blitz against KXIP.

The Royals need to find some sting in their pace bowling department; take out Archer, and their remaining pacers have taken only 17 wickets and leaked runs at the rate of 10.25 runs per over. The West Indies speedster Oshane Thomas, who the Royals secured for a salary of INR 1.1 crore, deserves to get a look-in.

The Royals will lose several of their overseas players in the not-too-distant future and their job will only become more difficult when the player exodus hits them; they need to put together a series of wins quickly. Now would be a good time to begin.

When

20 April 2019, 4pm IST

Where

Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur

Previous Match XIs:

Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Tripathi, Jos Buttler, Sanju Samson, Ajinkya Rahane, Ashton Turner, Jofra Archer, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Ish Sodhi, Dhawal Kulkarni.

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Ben Cutting, Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Jayant Yadav, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga.

Protagonists

The Rajasthan Royals depend heavily on Jos Buttler – to score the runs and set the tone too. The opener hasn’t disappointed. But it is asking too much of a cricketer – however good – to score big runs and score them at a quick rate consistently, given aggressive cricket comes with taking risks. The Royals need more from their captain Ajinkya Rahane and the mercurial  Sanju Samson.

MI’s strength this season has been their middle order; Hardik Pandya, in particular, has been sensational with the bat. The younger of the Pandya brothers has consistently landed those knockout blows in the final overs; his contribution has often been the difference between a good total and a match-winning total, between a win and a loss.

MI scored at 7.77 runs per over in the powerplay in their first six matches, and that number has risen to 10.05 in the last three matches. For that, the credit should go to Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock, who have now posted three consecutive half-century partnerships.

The pacer Jofra Archer – who has earned his first call-up to the England national team, and Shreyas Gopal have been the consistent bowling stars for the Royals; between them they’ve picked up 18 wickets – as many as the rest of the Royals bowlers together have managed. Jasprit Bumrah has been MI’s standout bowler – not only for the number of wickets he’s picked up, but also because he’s been difficult to score off.

Head to Head in Indian Premier League

Overall: Matches – 19, Rajasthan Royals – 9, Mumbai Indians – 10.

Since 2015: Matches – 19, Rajasthan Royals – 4, Mumbai Indians – 1

Trivia

Captains winning the toss have opted to bat in six of the last seven Day IPL matches played at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur.

Ajinkya Rahane needs 56 runs to complete 1000 runs in IPL matches at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.

Jofra Archer has taken 8 wickets (at an average of 9.62) in three matches against the Mumbai Indians.

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