IPL 2014 - MI vs RCB: Can Mumbai Indians make it 2 wins in a row?
Catastrophic is the solitary word to describe Mumbai Indians’ title defence so far. Irrespective of some contentious transfers in the auctions that preceded the 7th edition of the Indian Premier League, the performances in the middle have been horrendous and shambolic.
As a result of all the poor cricket that’s been played by the likes of Rohit Sharmas, the Pollards, the Ojhas and all those blokes, who played an integral part in MI doing the double last season, the campaign was very nearly over (still could be) after the first 5 games.
But, after 5 successive defeats to start off the campaign, there had to be some kind of a reprieve, a break in the pattern, and that’s exactly what happened in the game against the then IPL table-toppers, KXIP.
The bowling performance against the Punjab-based franchise was good, and the likes of Maxwell and Miller were shut out relatively cheaply. Some very good catching in the deep, and equally good ground fielding stifled the Kings XI Punjab from amassing any kind of a menacing total.
The batting, for the first time in the campaign, stood up to the task and owing to some lusty blows from Tare and Pollard at the back-end of the innings, Mumbai Indians scraped through to their first win in IPL 2014 by 5 wickets.
The big question, though, will be whether Mumbai Indians can build on that and string a few wins together, just as they managed to string a few defeats?
Back in India, and more so at the Wankhede, will give Rohit Sharma and his troops the confidence to play the brand of cricket they know they can play and give themselves a chance of making it to the playoffs. However, what shouldn’t be forgotten is that the team they are facing today, the Royal Challengers Bangalore, boasts of the best players there is, and there can ever be in this format of the game.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Royal Challengers Bangalore
On paper, Royal Challengers Bangalore is the better outfit, and will no doubt be a tough nut to crack for the Mumbai Indians.
Without a smidgen of cynicism, RCB’s batting can send shivers down the spine of most oppositions. But over the course of this IPL, the likes of Kohli, Yuvraj and AB de Villiers haven’t performed in unison. Most conspicuously, AB De Villiers’s batting credentials have been immortalized, and it would be interesting to see whether the versatile South African right-hander can continue from where he left off against the Sunrisers Hyderabad in their last game.
The bowling, led by Mitchell Starc, hasn’t been all that bad, but it can certainly be put under pressure. The track at the Wankhede is a placid one to bat on, and the more pace you render as a bowler, the easier it will be to dispatch you to the boundary.
So, there lies a challenge for RCB and Virat Kohli. Too much of pace from the likes of Starc and Varun Aaron will make life easier for the struggling Mumbai Indians batsmen, and the performance of the RCB bowlers could have a major say in the end analysis of this game. Yuzvendra Chahal would want to repeat the brilliant performance he had against MI in the earlier game between the two sides in Dubai.
Mumbai Indians’ batting has to be the major concern for the MI think-tank and the players themselves. But, the batting form has started to improve in the last couple of games, and chasing 169 for victory against KXIP, successfully, was an evidence of the return to form for most batsmen in that MI batting lineup. Pollard, of all other MI batsmen, has looked good, and the team would want him to harness whatever little form he has got into.
You would have to say that the Mumbai Indians’ bowling has looked good for the length of the campaign so far. Zaheer Khan has used the new ball very well, and chipped away at the wickets. Malinga on any day is tough to get away. Ojha and Harbhajan were the ones leaking the runs during the UAE leg of this season’ IPL, but Harbhajan was terrific in his last outing against the KXIP when he accounted for Maxwell, and overall remained composed at the sight of a marauding batsmen like Maxwell. The MI bowlers will need to continue the good work they have been doing.
I think that this game could be decided on the way the MI batsmen play, irrespective of whether they chase a target or have to set one for RCB. De Villiers, albeit a dangerous player and an X-factor in this game, has been blown out of proportion and that in turn could end up jinxing him on the night. If MI play to potential, they should have enough in the bank to topple RCB.
Well, to put things into perspective, if a title-chasing side like Liverpool can ship 3 goals in 9 minutes against Crystal Palace, then MI going on a run of victories is also very much plausible, even though they are languishing right at the foot of the IPL table.
Onwards and upwards Mumbai Indians!