Led by Rohit Sharma, the visitors have more than their fair share of individual talent, not only in the playing lineup but also on the bench, while the Rajasthan Royals are yet to make their presence felt this season.
Ajinkya Rahane will be scratching his head as he hopes to crack the perfect combination, whereas India teammate Rohit will turn to his stalwarts in an effort to keep their momentum going.
Neither side is likely to have it easy and, as always the very complexion the contest could change on the basis of the outcomes of some important mini-battles.
Currently, the two sides are at opposite ends of the points table. Mumbai are second and hot on the heels of Chennai Super Kings, while Rajasthan have themselves a mountain to climb and are sitting just above Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Here we have a look at the key player battles:
Jos Buttler vs Lasith Malinga
The Englishman really started enjoying life in the IPL since he began opening the innings, and hasn’t looked back since. He’s been a pillar of strength for Rahane’s side and with 311 runs from eight games with three half-centuries to boast off, keeping Buttler quiet will be of utmost importance.
That job is likely to fall in the hands of Sri Lankan bowling ace Lasith Malinga. The tricky fast bowler has had his share of fitness problems, but with the World Cup coming up around the corner he has pulled up his socks and how. Eight wickets from five means he is one of Mumbai’s best bowlers yet again and make no mistake he is landing the ball in the right spots which in turn is getting him wickets.
Rohit Sharma vs Shreyas Gopal
The Mumbai Indians captain has not yet moved through the gears this season and is due one of his classic knocks. No half-century to his name in eight games, Rohit will be itching to get a big one and the demoralized Royals bowling attack might just provide the right fodder.
However, Rohit’s problems against leg-spin has not deserted him and Rahane and Shreyas Gopal would have made note of his dismissal against Amit Mishra. Gopal, who has a knack of picking up the big wickets like Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers, will be keen to add to his collection of the eight he has already managed so far.
Hardik Pandya vs Jofra Archer
Both have their agenda in this edition of the IPL. Hardik after an unwanted controversy is doing his bit to keep his focus firmly on cricket, while Archer is still fighting tooth and nail to break into the England World Cup squad.
Hardik, in his bid, has been fantastic as he has finished innings’ with great aplomb and brute force with the bat. With a strike rate of close to 200, Hardik has been the one leading the charge at the business end of the innings. Delhi, Bangalore and even the Royals were recently been subjected to his destructive ways and nothing hints at a change in plan.
On the other hand, Jofra Archer’s IPL story has not panned out the way he would have wanted it in a crucial year like this. He came to the tournament with some great form from the Big Bash League, but that has tapered out much to the dismay of the Royals. While he has bagged 10 wickets in eight games there’s hardly been much of an impact.
Whoever has more impact on Saturday is likely to turn the contest in his side’s favour.
Ashton Turner vs Jasprit Bumrah
Very recently the Australian showed the Indian cricket team the type of game that the Royals are currently in dire need of. Turner can quite literally use the long handle to good effect – just like he did in Mohali and singlehandedly won his side the game against India. Turner’s form from the ODIs though has not translated into anything positive in T20 cricket and a hat-trick of ducks sits heavily on his shoulders. The Royals need him to find form and fast so that they don’t fall a few runs short in the closing stages.
Turner however will have his task cut out against one of the IPL’s best death bowlers in Jasprit Bumrah. In nine games, Bumrah has 10 at an economy of less than 7 runs per over, which tells you the task Turner has on his hand. If the Australian can get the better of the Bumrah, the Royals are likely to find themselves in the drivers’ seat, if not; the Bumrah story is all too familiar for Indian fans.
Hardik Pandyaipl 2019jasprit bumrahJofra ArcherJos ButtlerLasith MalingaMumbai IndiansRajasthan Royalsrohit sharma
First Published: April 20, 2019, 9:25 AM IST