Rajasthan Royals got back in form with a convincing seven-wicket win against Chennai Super Kings on Saturday, successfully chasing down 190 with 15 balls remaining. As a result, the Royals remain alive and well in the race to the playoffs, with two wins needed from our last two games. The equation couldn’t be more straightforward – win our matches and we are through. No peeking at other games hoping for a result in our favour – our destiny is in our own hands.
Our previous meeting with MI, in Delhi, was a forgettable one with Rohit Sharma\"s team registering a seven-wicket victory over us, during the first half of IPL 2021. Despite the 171/4 that RR had put on board, MI opener Quinton de Kock powered the chase with his unbeaten 50-ball 70. In the first innings, Sanju Samson had top-scored with a 27-ball 42 with Shivam Dube and Yashasvi Jaiswal scoring 30-odd each.
Overall H2H Record: Played - 23, RR - 11, MI- 12
Form Guide against MI: LWWLL
Overall Form Guide: LWLWW
Since IPL 2018, RR have won 5 games out of 7 against Mumbai Indians, and have developed a bit of a reputation of being their bogey side over the last few years. However, with the win over us earlier in the season, MI will fancy their chances as well.
Our skipper Sanju Samson, with 480 runs in 12 matches so far, is 48 runs behind Punjab Kings captain KL Rahul in the Orange Cap race. Meanwhile, MI skipper Rohit Sharma averages 22.91 against RR in the IPL, which is his lowest batting average against an IPL side against whom he has played at least 20 matches.
After scoring a season-high 81/1 in the Powerplay against CSK, we will rely on our openers once again. Evin Lewis, who joined the Royals before the UAE leg, has scored at a SR of 171, 150, 156, and 225 in his 4 innings so far for us, proving to be a key figure at the top. His opening partner Yashasvi Jaiswal has found his range as well, scoring 49, 5, 36, 31 and 50 since the tournament resumed.
Against CSK, RR made several changes to the side due to both tactics and injury, as Glenn Phillips and David Miller came into the side, while Evin Lewis and Mustafizur Rahman were the other two overseas players. We’re now playing in Sharjah, notorious for its slow and tricky wickets this season, unlike the batting paradise we saw in IPL 2020. It will be interesting to see if we change the balance from the last game based on conditions or the opposition. If David Miller does play on Tuesday, it will be his 350th appearance in T20s.
Players to watch
Glenn Phillips is a fantastic player of spin, averaging 49 while striking at 131 against spinners in T20s since 2018, and also aggressive against pace with a strike rate of above 150 in the same time period. The New Zealand power hitter, who made his IPL debut in the last game, also completed 4000 T20 runs during his little cameo against CSK.
Evin Lewis, who has the highest Powerplay strike rate in the league during the UAE leg, has a brilliant partnership record with Yashasvi Jaiswal’s (three 50+ opening stands between them) so far. Both of them will be crucial for us in a big game like this, especially against the Boult-Bumrah led bowling attack.
And finally, how can we forget to mention Rahul Tewatia, the man who chose this very stadium for one of the most stunning individual turnarounds in IPL and T20 history. That innings and match against Punjab Kings still lives fresh in the memory of fans as well as players, and we hope Rahul can do a Tewatia one more time.
Given the current form of both teams, it could be said that RR have a slight advantage over MI as they are walking into the battle after a loss against Delhi Capitals. However, with plenty of world-class talent at their disposal, and their knack to peak towards the end of the tournament, MI remain a formidable unit despite their position in the table.
Moreover, it’s time for us to rekindle our love affair with Sharjah, the venue where we won two out of the three matches we played in IPL 2020. The Royals are currently placed 6th in the table, one position above MI, and are set to leave no stone unturned as we push for a spot in the playoffs. It’s crunch time!