IPL 2019: Mumbai Indians in ominous form as struggling Rajasthan Royals come calling

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Mumbai are on a roll. Image - BCCI/SPORTZPICS.

Two teams with vastly contrasting forms will meet on Saturday in the 2019 Indian Premier League when Mumbai Indians play host to Rajasthan Royals at the Wankhede stadium.

Rohit Sharma and his Mumbai team come into the clash of on the back of a three-match winning run which has seen them topple defending champions Chennai Super Kings, last season’s runners-up Sunrisers Hyderabad and high-flying Kings XI Punjab.

After an indifferent start to their campaign which saw them lose two of their three opening fixtures, Mumbai have started to find the kind of momentum that has seen them win three IPL titles in the past.

MUMBAI ON A ROLL

A major reason for their revival has been the form of all-rounders Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya with the pair playing some crucial cameos with the bat down the order in recent clashes. Pollard’s 31-ball 83 was at the forefront of Mumbai’s last-gasp victory over KXIP with the side chasing down a stiff target of 198 off the very last delivery of the match.

While the form of Pollard and Pandya augurs well for Mumbai going forward, the return of Lasith Malinga from his domestic commitments will provide another boost. The veteran pacer is now back full time for the franchise after completing his Super Four Provincial One-Day tournament engagements back in Sri Lanka with Galle.

With Malinga back, Mumbai have an impressive pace arsenal at their disposal which also includes the excellent Jasprit Bumrah, Jason Behrendorrf and Alzarri Joseph.

But while Mumbai are clearly on the way up, Rajasthan on the other hand, are fast slipping into quicksand…

MISFIRING ROYALS

The 2008 winners are languishing second from bottom in the IPL standings after registering just the sole win in their six matches so far. Ajinkya Rahane and his men’s lone victory came against bottom-placed RCB while they have tasted five defeats already with the latest of them coming in the most heartbreaking of manners.

Their star all-rounder Ben Stokes failed to defend 18 runs off the final over against Chennai Super Kings on Thursday as they once again failed to close out a match which they should have won. In their five losses so far, only Kolkata Knight Riders have convincingly thrashed them while the remaining four defeats have all been close ones.

But so fine are the margins in T20 cricket that the Royals might have already waved goodbye to their chances of making it to the play-offs for a second year in a row.

It will take a miraculous run from Rajasthan in the second half of their campaign if they are to still make the top-four but they will first need their misfiring overseas contingent to rise to the occasion.

The likes of Steve Smith and Stokes have failed to really come to the party while Jos Buttler has blown hot and cold. The Royals have Ashton Turner, Liam Livingstone and Ish Sodhi still in reserve and it might now be time for them to make some changes to the playing XI if they are to reverse their fortunes.

TEAM NEWS

Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma missed out on his side’s win over KXIP due to a muscle strain and it is likely that he could be out for the clash against Rajasthan as well.

LIKELY XIs

Mumbai Indians: Quinton de Kock (wk), Siddesh Lad/Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar, Jason Behrendorrf, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah.

Rajasthan Royals: Ajinkya Rahane (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Sanju Samson, Rahul Tripathi, Ashton Turner, Ben Stokes, Riyan Parag, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaydev Unadkat.

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