Defending champions Mumbai Indians will be eyeing the top spot on the IPL 2020 points table when they square off against the Rajasthan Royals in the 20th match of the season at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Rohit Sharma's men didn't have the greatest of starts to the season, losing their IPL 2020 opener to MS Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings. Since then though, MI have won three of their four games, their only loss an unfortunate one against the Royal Challengers Bangalore in a Super Over.
The Royals, on the other hand, have fizzled out after wins from their first two encounters. A batting collapse saw them crumble to a 37-run loss against the Kolkata Knight Riders, while the bowlers were left looking clueless by a 99-run partnership between young star Devdutt Padikkal and RCB skipper Virat Kohli.
While there's nothing to separate these two sides in terms of head-to-head records, momentum is a funny term in cricket, but the hunger to win has often yielded some terrific cricket in recent times. Case in point - CSK's 10-wicket pounding of KXIP.
If there's one thing that IPL 2020 has taught cricket fans, it's to never rule out any result, and if that's a sign of things to come, we're in for a cracking Mumbai v Rajasthan clash.
IPL 2020: MI v RR Match Prediction
In the Mumbai Indians' previous encounter against the Sunrisers Hyderabad, there were several talking points, including Quinton de Kock's return to form and some pyrotechnics from Krunal Pandya, who scored 20 runs in the four balls he faced.
With all the MI batsmen having struck form in this competition - barring Suryakumar Yadav - the opposition bowlers have gone on a leather hunt against the defending champions, especially in the death overs.
This very trend could prove to be a major headache for Steve Smith, with none of the bowlers apart from Jofra Archer managing to trouble the batsmen thus far at IPL 2020.
One might argue that the Englishman has just four scalps from four matches, but his economy of 6.75 RPO is a testament of his skill against the best in the business.
Back to the RR bowling unit as a whole, all the other bowlers have been taken for more than 9 RPO. Tom Curran, Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Rajpoot have all been tried out at different stages of the game, and they've all flattered to deceive.
As for the spin department, Tewatia has four wickets from four games, but neither he nor Shreyas Gopal have looked threatening. With the MI duo of Keiron Pollard and Hardik Pandya enjoying slamming towering sixes against the spinners in IPL 2020, RR will need to conjure up a way of keeping the batsmen at bay.
On the batting front, much is dependent on the top three of Jos Buttler, Steve Smith and Sanju Samson. Buttler has flattered to deceive in three matches so far, with just 47 runs to his name but he's a man brimming with world-class talent, and playing against his former side could only light the fire in him to shine.
However, the Royals' batting stats certainly don't paint a pretty picture. Tewatia (101), Curran (68) and Archer (62) round up the top five run-scorers list for RR so far, with Samson (171) and Smith (127) occupying the top two spots.
Robin Uthappa's poor show so far - 33 runs from four matches at a strike rate of 78.57 - has really dented RR's momentum in the middle overs, and against a team like MI, lack of momentum could be a huge thorn in the flesh.
Overall, MI are looking like the side to beat, while the Royals have more than just one department to sharpen. And, with MI coming into this clash on the back of two wins, they will walk into this clash as favourites to pick up a win.
Prediction: MI to win today.Published 06 Oct 2020, 10:00 IST