By Jamie Alter
Bengaluru: Apr 12, 2011
After facile wins in their first games respectively, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians know they’re going to be tested in game six of IPL 4. The IPL is not hardly a few days on and teams are still testing out their potential while gauging the players’ ability to gel with each other, and on evidence of one game each, it appears both RCB and MI have begun to do so well.
MI have the luxury of operating with the nucleus of their previous seasons’ squad, while RCB look to have made the right move by buying four overseas players from Delhi Daredevils – Tillakaratne Dilshan, AB de Villiers, Dirk Nannes and the new captain, Daniel Vettori. Compatibility is crucial in the IPL, and along with Chennai Super Kings, MI and RCB look the most settled franchises.
RCB, back at home, know that their batsmen will be tested far more than they were against Kochi Tuskers Kerala, with Lasith Malinga coming off a devastating five-wicket haul, and that their bowlers will have no margin for error against a line-up boasting Sachin Tendulkar, Davy Jacobs, Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and, fitness permitting, Andrew Symonds. Against KTK on Saturday, de Villiers pumped his way to an unbeaten fifty as RCB chased down 162 with six wickets in the bag, but MI’s attack is far more intimidating.
DD were hurt badly by Malinga’s two wickets – both bowled – in his first over on Sunday, and struggled to breathe against Harbhajan Singh’s nagging lines. Malinga’s pace and Harbhajan’s accuracy will be the toughest challenges for RCB’s batsmen, out of which TDilshan and Virat Kohli need to fire to ensure the threat is somewhat negated.
Mumbai hardly broke a sweat while chasing 96 in Delhi, so much so that Tendulkar and Sharma batted at strike-rates of 92.00 and 90.00 respectively. There was no slam-bang approach to their chase; just proper cricketing shots and cool heads. Symonds’ fitness worries meant he was benched for New Zealand all-rounder James Franklin, but should Symonds be fit he will step right into the middle order. With him and Pollard, MI have a devastating all-round pair.
To curb Tendulkar and the likes of Sharma and Pollard, much rests on Vettori. The RCB skipper was exemplary in the win over KTK, bowling with admirable control to net figures of one for 17 from four overs. Vettori was singularly responsible for reigning KTK in from a strong start, and ultimately a total of 161 proved inadequate. Zaheer Khan also had a good outing back with the team he started out in the IPL with in 2008, but Nannes and Abhimanyu Mithun – who’s on over cost 19 – were off-color. Nannes should keep his place, rightfully, and even though Mithun seems likely to be retained due to the lack of any good pace options in the squad.
Both teams have won three games apiece, sharing fortunes in all three seasons. In 2008, RCB won the first match by five wickets, and MI steamrolled RCB in the return leg by nine wickets. In 2009, RCB won the first encounter easily, before MI came back to clinch victory. In 2010, RCB won the first encounter by seven wickets, but MI finished the season by extracting revenge via a 57-run drubbing.
Royal Challengers Bangalore (Probable): Mayank Agarwal, Tillakaratne Dilshan, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers (wk), Saurabh Tiwary, Cheteshwar Pujara, Asad Pathan, Daniel Vettori (c), Zaheer Khan, Dirk Nannes, Abhimanyu Mithun.
Mumbai Indians (Probable): Sachin Tendulkar (c), Davy Jacobs (wk), Ambati Rayudu, Rohit Sharma, Andrew Symonds/James Franklin, Kieron Pollard, Rajagopal Sathish, Harbhajan Singh, Ali Muraza, Lasith Malinga, Munaf Patel.
Time: 20.00 local (14.30 GMT)
(Jamie Alter is a freelance cricket writer, having worked at ESPNcricinfo and All Sports Magazine. His first book, The History of World Cup Cricket, is out now. His twitter feed is @jamie_alter)
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