Mumbai Indians are set to take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore in search of their first victory of the season after three games. The Challengers’ season is not going much better, with one victory from three games to their name. Their lineup of big names is failing to justify the hype yet again while it has become commonplace for Mumbai to lose their initial matches only to bounce back later.
It can’t hurt to win now, though, and both teams have some pressing concerns they need to address. The Wankhede pitch is bound to be one that plays into the hands of both teams with their batting lineups. Both scored 190+ in their last games but lost anyway. Can RCB get their second win of the season against a seemingly hapless Mumbai, or will the Indians get their first victory of the season?
Royal Challengers Bangalore
Virat Kohli (c), AB de Villiers, Sarfaraz Khan, Brendon McCullum, Chris Woakes, Colin de Grandhomme, Moeen Ali, Quinton de Kock, Umesh Yadav, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manan Vohra, Kulwant Khejroliya, Aniket Choudhary, Navdeep Saini, Murugan Ashwin, Mandeep Singh, Washington Sundar, Pawan Negi, Mohammed Siraj, Parthiv Patel, Aniruddha Joshi, Pavan Deshpande, Tim Southee, Corey Anderson.
Rohit Sharma (c), Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Mustafizur Rahman, Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Rahul Chahar, Evin Lewis, Saurabh Tiwary, Ben Cutting, Pradeep Sangwan, Jean-Paul Duminy, Tajinder Singh, Sharad Lumba, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare, Mayank Markande, Akila Dananjaya, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, MD Nidheesh, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne.
Where the teams stand
Royal Challengers Bangalore
The Challengers have never failed in producing some of the best batting lineups of any T20 team across the world. McCullum, Kohli, and de Villiers are three of the highest scorers in the shortest format, having scored close to 25,000 runs in all T20s on aggregate. However, the bowling attack needs to step up and back up this lineup. Chasing 218 was never going to be easy, but RCB managing 198 is a good sign of their solidarity despite McCullum’s failure at the top in the last two games. The RCB middle order has been in great form, but de Kock is a slight concern at the top. He is a talented batsman with tons of potential, but he has not been the most reliable recently. de Kock has looked shaky at the top bar his innings against KXIP. The Challengers do not have too many quality replacements, with Ali, Colin de Grandhomme, and Corey Anderson on the bench. All of these three are lower middle order pinch-hitters who can also give you four overs with the ball. RCB need a stable opening pair, one which can lay a good foundation for the middle order and take some pressure off them.
Before the last game, Umesh Yadav had been RCBs best bowler by far. He was bowling at great pace with adequate control on his line and length. Then he conceded 60 in 4 overs, highlighting the vast degree of inconsistency that has stopped him from being a regular in the Indian team. Washington Sundar was taken to the cleaners against KKR, but he has bounced back effectively in his last two games. He has maintained an average economy of 6.5 and taken wickets by choking the flow of runs. The other bowlers, comprising Woakes, Chahal, and Khejroliya, have been consistently expensive and late to earn breakthroughs. Run-scoring has not been an issue for RCB this season, but a toothless bowling attack will ensure sustained frustration with their match results. The solution to this is not just bowling first every time, in fact, it is the opposite. Kohli must be brave and give his batsmen the freedom to get as much as they can, while putting the bowlers under some pressure to defend scores. They will have to do it at some point anyway, and there is no better time to start practising, especially at a time when it could switch their fortunes.
Fantasy Picks: de Villiers, Kohli, McCullum, and Sundar are four reliable picks from RCB. McCullum’s two recent failures are not indicative of the kind of form he is, and he will tear apart any bowling attack on his day. Sundar’s relative inexperience in the IPL is overshadowed by his performances, with bat and ball both. Mandeep Singh has also been in great form recently. Yadav had one bad game, but trust him to bounce back and be back at his steaming best.
Old habits die hard, and Mumbai are having a hard time killing their old habit of beginning campaigns with a streak of losses. The problem begins right at the top, with Rohit Sharma failing to cross 18, his highest score so far. He dropped himself down the order in the last match to number 4, promoting Suryakumar Yadav to the opening slot instead. It worked. Lewis and Yadav shared a 100 run opening stand, but losing wickets in bursts prevented Mumbai from scoring much more than they what they did. Yadav and Lewis have looked in top form so far, while Kishan has been promising as well. The Pandya brothers have been on and off with their performances, especially Hardik, who has been troubled by injury. Krunal scored 41 from 22 in the first game but has fallen flat since. Pollard is past his prime as well, and Mumbai has failed to find a long-term replacement for him. JP Duminy and Ben Cutting on the bench would be much better options given Pollard no longer bowls either. All of this makes Mumbai very top heavy, tapering off after Sharma at 4. RCB, on the other hand, are heavy in the middle order and are wanting in the opening slots.
Just like Yadav was pummeled in his last match after two great games, Markande too has suffered the same fate. He conceded 42 in 3 overs against Delhi, going at 14 an over after 7 wickets and an average economy of 5.75 in the first two. Despite one failure, both bowlers are still lethal threats for the oppositions. Besides Markande, the Fizz has been exceptional for Mumbai the way he was for Hyderabad in his debut season. The rest of the bowlers have been very leaky, and Mumbai are struggling to fill the second foreign pacers slot alongside Fizz. They have tried playing McClenaghan, Cutting, and now Dananjaya, and it has not worked. All three have conceded at 10 or above in the one game each they have played. Bumrah was effective against DD, but expensive in the first two games. Hardik’s injury issues deem him unreliable too, especially after he gave away 32 in 2 overs. Both teams have leaky bowling attacks to deal with, pushing the focus to the batsmen and who can hold on to their wickets. Yadav, Lewis, and Kishan do not need too many to accelerate gears, but the bowling order has failed to defend 190+ on one instance, and they cannot afford to fail again.
Fantasy Picks: The top four in Yadav, Lewis, Kishan, and Sharma are the best performers in Mumbai. Rohit not so much recently, but all he needs is one good game. Markande and the Fizz are other obvious picks, while Bumrah is a worthy gamble for the game.
RCB win. Too many issues plague Mumbai, and if batting is going to decide the tie, RCB are favourites.
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