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Rajasthan Royals & Mumbai Indians have had contrasting journeys in this IPL. While MI have been in the top 4 consistently, the Royals have struggled to get in after being there early on during the season. We find ourselves in a position which MI faced during a couple of seasons in the past; they even turned the season around from there too. What’s to say that the Royals beat the top team in the league so far and the tables turn?

Plot:

Rajasthan Royals are in a situation where it’s clear that they have to win their remaining matches. That’s not all; they would also like a few results going their way. CSK are all but out after their loss to Mumbai Indians, but KKR, SRH & KXIP are all vying for that fourth spot in the points table. Smith has mentioned time & again that we have shown sparks of brilliance, and have lost games from winning positions. It’s a matter of closing games out the right way. The whole team needs to get together, forget about all the pressure of not performing and be the best they can be against Mumbai.

Mumbai have been well balanced with both bat & ball. They have quality pacers & Rahul Chahar has proven to be an effective asset during the middle overs. The Royals batsmen will have to put on their smart hats and bat against them tactfully. Barring the previous game against SRH, the Royals have bowled considerably well. Their aim will be to rally around Archer’s form and pick up quick wickets in the Powerplay, especially those of Quinton de Kock, Rohit Sharma (if he plays) and one of Suryakumar Yadav or Ishan Kishan. If they manage to pull this off, their middle-order can be put under the pump.


During the last meeting, Mumbai managed to send the Royals top order back in quick time & that put us on the back foot in the chase. Buttler went on to score a fighting half-century, but was undone by a blinder from Pollard in the deep. We would certainly hope that Buttler’s form against MI continues. It will be interesting to see where Stokesy bats in this game, and if he drops down the order, does Buttler retain the opening slot?

Stage:

Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Rajasthan Royals’ last win came at this venue, when they beat CSK comfortably. The average first innings scores have dropped to under 160 in this tournament over here. One of the surfaces is conducive to quick bowling while the other in Abu Dhabi has been quite dry and favours spin. The surface being played on could have a huge role in the playing XI that will be chosen.

Acts:

Steve Smith vs Jasprit Bumrah
Steve Smith got out to Bumrah in the previous game, trying to play an uncharacteristic heave across the line. Smith has avoided playing such shots early in his innings for a while now. This is a battle of one of the world’s most skilful bowlers against a batsman who tries to out-think his opponents.

Sanju Samson vs Rahul Chahar
If someone can add pressure on Chahar, early on in is spell, it’s Samson. He likes to take spinners on and with one boundary likely to be on the short side, he could target Chahar with his lovely bat swing. Chahar has some skills up his sleeve too; bowling with a left-arm orthodox spinner’s run-up is one of the latest. Get your popcorn out if the duo faces off.


Jofra Archer vs Quinton de Kock
Archer has been bowling with his tail up. He has also rewarded Smith with wickets whenever he has been brought on to bowl. De Kock on the other hand, has found form at the business end for MI. Getting his wicket early could be the key for the Royals on the field. Archer vs de Kock, two players in the prime of their careers is a battle worth watching.

Beating Mumbai Indians could just be the push Rajasthan Royals need for the rest of this season. This is the start of a mission to get to 14 points. The other results are not really under the Royals’ control. Andrew McDonald had a simple message to the entire team after the last loss. He asked the players to take off all the shackles and play their best game in the middle. At the press conference, he added that a team that has nothing to lose is a very dangerous team. And, that is exactly what we want to be against MI – dangerous.