A sensational win over Kings XI Punjab in their last game, scripted by stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard, should give the hosts plenty of confidence ahead of their next tie against Rajasthan Royals in Wankhede on Saturday afternoon.
MI, who are comfortably in third place on the points table with four wins in six games, will be bolstered by the return of skipper Rohit Sharma from injury. A leg spasm ahead of their game against Kings XI forced Rohit to miss the last tie.
The puzzles are starting to fall in place for MI with Pollard starting to find touch in the middle-order and the bowling line-up performing well with the addition of Jason Behrendorff and West Indian paceman Alzarri Joseph.
Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar has been the surprise addition and has bowled with fine accuracy to give Mumbai control in the middle-overs. The bowling form of Hardik Pandya is the only concern for MI at the moment but the all-rounder is making up for that with his batting performances at the end of the innings.
On the other hand, the Royals are languishing at the bottom of the table. The visitors will be reeling after another heart-breaking loss to the Chennai Super Kings on Thursday night, when Ben Stokes failed to defend 18 runs in the finals over.
Their batting has floundered in the middle after Jos Buttler’s flying starts and will be one major area of concern for skipper Ajinkya Rahane. The Royals will need to put up a much-better display with the willow on the flat Wankhede track to push MI on their home turf.
Players to watch out for
Kieron Pollard: The West Indian all-rounder had become the leading run-scorer for MI this season with his 83-run knock the other night. Pollard has had mixed returns in the IPL in the last couple of years but with West Indies cricket going through some positive changes, the Trinidadian has extra motivation to pull up his weight for MI this season. The big West Indian had not lost his liking for big-hitting, as he displayed with 10 sixes against Kings XI and will look to carry on that same vein against the Royals.
Jos Buttler: The English wicket-keeper batsman hasn’t had the same impact as last year in the opening position for the Royals. However, when he gets going, Buttler can still be unstoppable as he has shown a couple of times in 2019. With just 4 matches to go before he returns to England, Buttler will be keen to stamp his mark on the tournament before his departure.
Team News/Availability: MI: Skipper Rohit Sharma has recovered from his leg injury and should be available for the tie.
RR: The floundering side need to make some changes by bringing in Australian Ashton Turner into the XI and giving them some firepower at the latter half of the innings.
Predicted playing XIs
MI: Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Jason Behrendorff, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Alzarri Joseph and Ishan Kishan (wk)
RR: Ajinkya Rahane (C), Sanju Samson (WK), Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Ashton Turner/Steve Smith, Shreyas Gopal, Jaydev Unadkat, Riyan Parag, Dhawal Kulkarni and Rahul Tripathi
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jason Behrendorff, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Alzarri Joseph, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan (wk), Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav.
Rajasthan Royals: Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Ashton Turner, Ish Sodhi, Oshane Thomas, Liam Livingstone, Ajinkya Rahane (C), Sanju Samson (WK), Shubham Ranjane, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Sudhesan Midhun, Jaydev Unadkat, Prashant Chopra, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Riyan Parag, Dhawal Kulkarni, Krishnappa Gowtham, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Manan Vohra, Rahul Tripathi.
First Published: April 12, 2019, 8:44 PM IST