MI and RR are placed in the middle of the points table    AFP
MI and RR are placed in the middle of the points table AFP

The group stage of ongoing VIVO IPL 2018 is getting intense with every passing game. Barring table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), no team has been guaranteed a place in the Playoffs. With teams fighting hard for the remaining three places, anything is possible. Amidst all this, Mumbaikars Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane will face-off at Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, where Mumbai Indians (MI), the former’s side, will host Rahane-led Rajasthan Royals (RR). Both sides were languishing at the bottom, but have turned the tides and lit up the tournament with spectacular coming-from-behind victories.

MI demolished Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their last match, at Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Batting first, MI were off to another good start by Evin Lewis and Suryakumar Yadav before the much-needed fireworks were provided by Ishan Kishan. Kishan tore apart the KKR spinners apart, in particular Piyush Chawla, and took the total beyond 200. Cameos from Rohit and the Pandya brothers helped as well. In reply, KKR were never in the match and lost regular wickets. They eventually succumbed to a massive 102-run defeat, which took serious toll on their net run rate.

On the other hand, RR bounced back emphatically in home conditions to earn back-to-back wins. They first beat Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), and carried their form forward versus Chennai Super Kings (CSK). They are beginning to come to terms, and will be determined to take the momentum forward. However, they will like Rahane, Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson. Meanwhile, Jos Buttler is playing on a different mode, with 4 back-to-back fifties, all as opener.

MI and RR’s previous clash had gone down down to the wire. RR had prevailed in a modest-scoring encounter. The situation has turned more intense, and both sides will surely make up for another nerve-wrecking clash.

MI likely XI

RR likely XI

Predictions: RR have a realistic chance of pulling off an MI. The hosts are returning to their home turf on the back of 3 victories, while RR are getting into their elements. The heat will test players from both camps. Nonetheless, 170-180 should be a par score. MI have home advantage, but both sides have form in their grasp. Expect a mouth-watering contest. Overall record favours MI (8-6).