IPL 2019: Questions over Kieron Pollard and Ben Stokes as Mumbai Indians take on Rajasthan Royals

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Pollard and Stokes.

Rajasthan Royals got a tense victory in their previous IPL 2019 meeting with Mumbai Indians, after a dramatic collapse in a chase of 188.

They were 100/1 after 10 overs but lost four wickets in nine balls to turn a stroll into a last-over thriller. That win boosted their faint play-off hopes, but losing to Kings XI Punjab in their next game means the top four remains a distant prospect.

Mumbai have no such concerns. They bounced back from losing to the Royals by beating Delhi to go second in the table, and will go top with a win on Saturday.

WILL BEN STOKES RETURN FOR RAJASTHAN?

England all-rounder Ben Stokes has made just 104 runs in six matches, with a top score of 46, and taken six wickets while going at an economy rate of 11.22. That middling form saw Stokes dropped for the last two games.

But the players who have come in for Stokes haven’t shone either. Liam Livingstone replaced him against Mumbai, bowling one over that cost 13 runs. Against Kings XI, where Steve Smith was also left out having endured a patchy season himself, Ish Sodhi and Ashton Turner got the nod.

Sodhi returned figures of 1/41 from four overs, though those were largely ruined by one bad over which went for 19. Turner, meanwhile, was out for a duck.

It would be unfair for either to get dropped after one game. But will the Royals’ desperation for a win be enough for the coaching staff to turn to the pedigree of Stokes again?

MUMBAI LOOK TO ADDRESS POLLARD CONUNDRUM

Kieron Pollard’s last two innings have ended with him not facing a ball. Mumbai won both games, but the two scorecard entries of 0 (0) have led to questions over whether the Indians are using their power-hitter properly.

Pollard came in at four to power a chase of 198 against Kings XI, smashing 83 off just 31 balls, his highest-ever IPL score. He continued at two-down in the next game, but managed six off 12 against Rajasthan. In his two scoreless innings he has batted at six and seven.

Part of the thinking has been to get Krunal Pandya and Ishan Kishan time in the middle. Pandya needed to find form and Kishan will be vital later in the season when regular wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock returns to South Africa.

Hardik Pandya‘s emergence as a premier finisher has also reduced the reliance on Pollard. But are they wasting the West Indian?

LIKELY XIs

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

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

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Delhi Capitals v Mumbai Indians LIVE: Mumbai win toss and bat first as they look to end Delhi hoodoo

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Pant was the architect of Delhi's win. Image - @IPL/Twitter.

Mumbai Indians have won the toss and elected to bat as they look to cement their standing in the IPL 2019 playoff race in Thursday’s clash against Delhi Capitals.

Both teams are tied on 10 points, and Chennai Super Kings’ surprise loss to Sunrisers Hyderabad means the winner of Thursday’s game will move within two points of the table-topping Super Kings. But the breathing room in the fight for fourth place has gotten smaller, with Sunrisers joining Kolkata Knight Riders on eight points and just two points outside the top four.

Delhi’s Feroz Shah Kotla ground has been a bogey venue for Mumbai in the IPL, as the Indians have a winning percentage of just 30 there, and have won just three out of nine games against Delhi. The Capitals’ own home form hasn’t been great this season, with only one win in three games at the Kotla, and that too came courtesy of a Super Over.

Rishabh Pant starred in the previous meeting between the two sides this season, hitting 78 off 27 balls to lead Delhi to a 37-run win in Mumbai.

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David Warner bounces back to lead Sunrisers Hyderabad to victory over Chennai Super Kings

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David Warner and Jonny Bairstow led Sunrisers to victory.

David Warner was pleased to be back to his free-flowing best as Sunrisers Hyderabad ended a run of three straight losses with a dominant victory over Chennai Super Kings on Wednesday that got their IPL 2019 campaign back on track as they moved to within two points of the play-off places.

Set a low target of 133 after the Sunrisers’ bowlers restricted the Super Kings to just 52 runs in the last 10 overs of their innings, Warner and opening partner Jonny Bairstow made sure there were no hiccups with a swashbuckling opening stand of 66 from just 34 balls.

“Sometimes we have been a bit hesitant,” Warner admitted, after his previous two innings had brought substantial scores but at a slower strike rate – 51 off 47 against Delhi Capitals and 70 off 62 against Kings XI Punjab. “Against Kings [XI Punjab] the wicket was quite tough.”

Warner, who leads the IPL 2019 run charts, praised Bairstow’s contributions to their opening partnerships, adding: “Me and Jonny have been mixing and matching quite well. Here the wicket was two-paced.”

The England batsman’s 61 off 44 made sure the innings didn’t lose momentum after Warner fell and it was he who hit the winning runs, wrapping up the game with a towering six to put the seal on a comprehensive victory.

Bairstow credited Sunrisers’ bowlers for taking control of the game in the back end of CSK’s innings, and said the three-game losing streak had not worn heavily on the team.

“Fantastic effort by bowlers to restrict them to 60-65 in the last 11 overs. Not sure what changed but I think we were more ruthless today,” the wicket-keeper said, singling out Rashid Khan for praise after the leg-spinner’s 2/17 turned the game in Sunrisers’ favour.

“It’s challenging facing Rashid in the nets and keeping to him in the match.”

It was a sentiment echoed by Bairstow’s captain, with Kane Williamson delighted by Khan’s performance and the all-around display from his side.

“Rashid has been an outstanding performer for a number of years. He was brilliant today,” the Sunrisers skipper enthused.

“Very good performance all around. CSK started well with the bat but the way we performed in the back half was outstanding and the chase was superb. I don’t think the wicket changed too much. Warner was brilliant. A match-winning knock with Jonny.”

Williamson’s opposite number, Suresh Raina – becoming the first person other than Mahendra Singh Dhoni to captain Chennai since 2010, as Dhoni sat the game out with back spasms – was disappointed by his side’s batting display, as the Super Kings frittered away an excellent platform provided by the openers, who put on 70 together.

Chennai were 80/1 at the end of the 10th over and looking set to score around 170, but the new batsmen who came in after Shane Watson and then Faf du Plessis were dismissed failed to get going.

“I think we should have rotated the strike more,” Raina said. “That’s why we were 30 runs short.”

“But a great wake up call for us,” he added, as the table-topping Super Kings suffered only their second loss of the season.

Raina also provided an update on the fitness of Chennai’s talisman and regular skipper, reassuring CSK fans that their favourite player would be back soon. “Dhoni is fit now and might play the next game,” the veteran batsman confirmed.

The former India batsman was full of praise for the Super Kings’ own star leg-spinner, with Imran Tahir once again among the wickets and matching opposite number Khan’s incisive spell with figures of 2/20, though it wasn’t enough to help Chennai avoid defeat.

“Tahir has been giving us a lot of breakthroughs and he did it today as well,” Raina exclaimed. “Whenever you need a wicket, you throw the ball to him and he gives you a wicket.”

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