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IPL 6: Match 23 - RR vs MI - Rajasthan Royals Preview

ANALYST
Preview 17 Apr 2013, 12:43 IST
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The sixth edition of the Indian Premier League will see glorified battles on the field on Wednesday night when Mumbai Indians take on Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh tadium in Jaipur. It will be the battles within the game which may put the audience in awe, with Rahul Dravid taking on Sachin Tendulkar, Shane Watson taking on Ricky Ponting and yes, Shanthakumaran Sreesanth taking on Harbhajan Singh. It would be interesting to see the young and inexperienced bowling attack of RR bowl to the legendary openers, followed by an exciting Mumbai middle-order.

RR have been bolstered by the return of Shane Watson to form, as he took the team to a blazing start against Punjab, with a spectacular 32 off just 19 balls. Ajinkya Rahane, opening alongside Watto, could switch gears and adapt to any situation. Rahul ‘The Wall’ Dravid follows them at his favourite No.3 position, and should he stay till the end, battling the likes of Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson, the other batters could play their best game around him. Adding to the firepower is Brad Hodge, the T20 veteran, whose presence has so far been under-rated in the RR side.

After the one-match blitzkrieg, Stuart Binny has failed to get into his elements, whereas Sanju Samson showed some mettle in the previous game, with a calm knock under pressure. The Kerala youngster also kept wickets well during the last game, holding on to three good catches and then effecting a run-out.

RR’s biggest plus this season has been the performances of its uncapped bowlers like Siddharth Trivedi and Rahul Shukla and their real test would begin when they bowl to Ponting, Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik and Pollard. James Faulkner and Kevon Cooper, who are yet to prove big on the international stage, have already started making an impression on their respective national selectors with excellent performances with the ball, especially in the death overs. Sreesanth is yet to prove his consistency, but in Jaipur, he will definitely be a huge threat. Should Shaun Tait recover from his injury, it could be a tough call to leave one of Cooper and Faulkner out of the side.

Conditions

The Sawai Mansingh stadium at Jaipur has a large covering of grass on it, helping the pace bowlers to a great extent, with excellent swing and bounce, reminding us of the pitches at Durban and Melbourne. A low-scoring game, with the ball dominating the bat, like in the previous two games, is expected here.

Head to head

These sides have faced each other ten times in the IPL, with MI emerging victorious on five occasions, and one match being abandoned. Mumbai defeated the Royals in both the matches last season and when they played in Jaipur last time, MI chased down 163 without losing any wicket, led by a dominant 86 from Dwayne Smith.

Key Players:

Rahul Dravid has been in sublime touch this season unlike the two veterans on the other side, scoring two half-centuries in four matches. Malinga, Johnson and Harbhajan would be raring to have a go at the RR batsmen and if Dravid could step in and shield them, we would have a thriller tonight.

James Faulkner has shown his strengths in the shortest format of the game with some pinch hitting with the bat and consistency with the ball. A star performer in the Big Bash League, if he gets going in the same way throughout the tournament, he could prove to be a valuable asset for the Royals.

RR’s strategy:

RR would love to bowl first after winning the toss, as the pitch would assist the seam bowlers very well at the start. They would probably go in with five pacers to put Mumbai on the backfoot and then they could chase down targets with great experience in the batting line-up.

Probable XI;

Rahul Shukla might play ahead of Ajit Chandila in the absence of Shaun Tait.

Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid (c), Brad Hodge, Stuart Binny/Sachin Baby, Sanju Samson (wk), James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper, Sreesanth, Rahul Shukla, Siddharth Trivedi.

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