Rajasthan Royals (RR) have not quite had the season that they would have liked in 2020. The team, led by Steve Smith, now finds themselves with just four wins in eleven games. With only eight points on the table, they now need to win all three of their remaining games to even have a chance of qualifying for the playoffs.
Up next, the Royals will be seen facing off against a formidable Mumbai Indians lineup that is coming off of a 10-wicket win against the Chennai Super Kings. What makes the win even more noteworthy, is that they did it despite not having their skipper Rohit Sharma in the playing XI owing to a hamstring injury.
RR has certainly shown glimpses of class, but need to be much more consistent to reach the playoffs.
RR has not looked as balanced as MI, but as we've often seen in IPL and cricket in general - when it's your day, it's your day. A win against the defending champions could well be the confidence booster that a struggling side like RR needs, and could possibly be what gets them through to the playoffs.
It definitely won't be an easy task, but for a side that consists of Steve Smith, Jofra Archer, Jos Butler, Sanju Samson, and Ben Stokes, it can be done. Here is what RR need to do to beat the Mumbai Indians.
1. Get Jos Buttler back at the top of the order
RR have struggled to find the perfect opening pair this season. With excellent top-order batsmen in the squad such as Sanju Samson, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler, and Robin Uthappa, not many would have expected RR to have this problem.
One of the biggest misses for them ever since the return of Ben Stokes has been the demotion of Buttler to the no. 4 spot. One could even call it an outrageous (read overly ambitious) move - especially given how successful Buttler and Stokes have been over the years at opening and middle-order positions respectively.
Ben Stokes has batted in the middle-order for the majority of his career and has struggled at the top for RR. In five innings, the English cricketer has managed to score 110 runs at a strike rate of just 106.79.
In Robin Uthappa, it looks like RR has found a permanent opener. Now, Buttler and Stokes must switch positions and go back to their original roles for the team - Buttler, the destructive opener, and Stokes, the genuine all-rounder who bats in the middle-order and adds valuable runs.
2. Attack the MI pacers
Currently at the top of the table, the Mumbai Indians are riding high on confidence. While both their bowling and batting departments have fired, their bowlers, especially, have been unstoppable.
Having taken a combined33 wickets in 10 games, the double threat of Boult and Bumrah are at the second and third place respectively in the race for the Purple cap (most wickets).
On the other hand, RR have batsmen such as Buttler, Samson, and Uthappa, all of whom are capable of launching an attack against good bowling oppositions. The best way for RR to dent MI's confidence and at the same time boost their own would be to go after MI's most successful bowlers.
Unfortunately for the leg-spinner from Karnataka, he hasn't been able to replicate his 2019 form inthis year's edition of the IPL. In eleven games, Shreyas Gopal has managed to take just seven wickets at an economy of 8.16 runs per over.
While this is not 'bad' by any means, it just not impactful enough. Especially in the UAE, a captain would expect his specialist spinner to be among the wickets; like Yuzvendra Chahal for RCB, Rahul Chahar for MI, and Rashid Khan for SRH.
RR can look to include Mayank Markande, who had a rather successful season with the Mumbai Indians in 2018, where he picked up 15 wickets in 14 games with best figures of 4/23. Granted, he hasn't played too much IPL after the 2018 season, but a young cricketer who has been on the sidelines would definitely go the whole hog to prove himself, if and when the opportunity presents itself.Published 25 Oct 2020, 15:37 IST