Buoyed by two recent victories, Mumbai Indians (MI) will have the upper hand when they take on an inconsistent Rajasthan Royals (RR) side in the 20th match of IPL 2020 at Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
After winning the first two games on the back of their batting prowess at Sharjah, Rajasthan hasn’t been able to adjust to the bigger grounds at Dubai and Abu Dhabi. On the other hand, MI have comeback exceedingly well after suffering a Super Over loss to RCB.
In their last two matches, MI have registered impressive wins over Punjab and Hyderabad by margins of 48 and 34 runs respectively. In the head-to-head battle, both teams are tied with 10 wins each while one game has produced no result.
Before MI and RR face-off in IPL 2020, we look at three player battles that could be in the offing.
#1. Rohit Sharma vs Jofra Archer
On paper, the Rohit Sharma vs Jofra Archer battle promises to be a highly intense one. Both players have displayed excellent form in IPL 2020 and their exceptional talents almost neutralise each other.
While Sharma loves pace onto the bat and is among the better players of the short ball, Archer is an expert at bowling at extreme pace and can produce an uncomfortable bounce to unsettle the batsmen.
While Sharma has notched up 176 runs in five games at a strike rate of 144.26 with a couple of breezy fifties, Archer has four wickets in as many games at a strike rate of 24.00 and an economy rate of under 7.
In the games that he has run in and bowled quick, Archer has made life extremely uncomfortable for the opposition batsmen. It will be a real challenge for Archer to hurry Sharma as he has so much time to play his strokes.
#2. Jos Buttler vs Trent Boult
RR opener Jos Buttler is yet to fire in IPL 2020 but he is just one big knock away from hitting his form. When he does that, we all know how dangerous he can be. The dashing England batsman has been getting starts but has failed to convert them into big scores.
As a result, he has only 47 runs from three games. However, RR will have confidence in his ability to bounce back. After all, Buttler has been their star performer over the last two seasons with 548 runs in 13 games and 311 in eight games respectively.
Left-arm pacer Trent Boult can trouble Buttler with his variations. Boult, who has made an impressive start to the season with eight wickets in five games at a strike rate of 14.50, has the ability to move the ball both in and away from the batsmen.
In addition to this, Boult also possesses a well-disguised slower ball and Buttler will definitely look to take him on. While the left-armer has the ability to pick up wickets, he can also be expensive. Fans will be in for a good cat-and-mouse contest when the two face off.
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#3. Kieron Pollard vs Shreyas Gopal
MI middle-order batsman Kieron Pollard has been in fantastic big-hitting form this season. In fact, he has been one of the key reasons why MI have fared so well so far.
Coming into bat in the death overs, Pollard has constantly delivered cameos that have made the difference between victory and defeat. Pollard has faced only 78 deliveries in the tournament so far but has smashed 163 runs at a strike rate of 208.97 with as many as 13 sixes.
In MI’s match against Kings XI Punjab, Pollard blasted off-spinner Krishnappa Gowtham for three consecutive sixes in the last over. Pollard will be looking forward to taking on leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal as well.
The latter has not had a good start to the tournament, but found some form against RCB in the last match, dismissing Aaron Finch and conceding only 27 runs in his four overs.
It goes without saying that Pollard will look to hit him out of the attack as well. However, Gopal has troubled the likes of Virat Kohli and AB de Villiers in the past. With the ball spinning away from him, Pollard will have to take that additional risk.Published 06 Oct 2020, 15:31 IST