IPL 2013 Preview: Mumbai Indians favourites against inspired Rajasthan Royals in second qualifier

Mumbai Indians will take on the Rajasthan Royals in the second qualifier of the Indian Premier League 2013 © AFP

By Sarang Bhalerao

Kolkata: May 23, 2013

Mumbai Indians hold edge over Rajasthan Royals in the second qualifier of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Eden Gardens on Friday.

Sachin Tendulkar’s absence will hurt the Mumbai Indians’ batting at the top as the maestro is out with an injury to his left hand. After missing the previous two IPL games, Tendulkar has been ruled out from participating in the remaining games as it will take at least three weeks for him to recuperate. In his absence Aditya Tare might partner Dwayne Smith. The opening combination of Smith and Tare will look to get Mumbai off to a good start and provide a solid foundation to the middle-order.

Chasing 193 against the Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier, Mumbai were cruising courtesy of an  aggressive 68 by Dwayne Smith but as soon as he was dismissed, the middle-order fell like a pack of cards. Mumbai will like to believe that it was a minor aberration. Batsmen like Dinesh Karthik, Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu have the ability to win matches single-handedly on their day.

Mumbai’s bowling has been their strength. Mitchell Johnson has looked ominous with the new ball. He has complemented Lasith Malinga very well. The spinning duo of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha will look to bowl frugally in the middle overs. They had a decent outing against Chennai in the previous game.

The fifth bowling option is worrisome for Mumbai. They have tinkered with it throughout the tournament. Dhawal Kulkarni, Pawan Suyal and Munaf Patel all have been tried and tested. But, Kulkarni has been ruled out due to injury and his absence would affect Mumbai.

Rajasthan Royals will be confident after their nervy win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad at the Feroz Shah Kotla. Brad Hodge’s unbeaten 29-ball 54 came when the rest of the batting struggled. Rajasthan’s batting on slow wickets has been found wanting. They have struggled against the Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens and were also not fluent in Hyderabad last week. Even in the Eliminator, Rajasthan kept losing wickets as soon as the spinners came into the attack.

Ajinkya Rahane looks to play second fiddle to Rahul Dravid and Shane Watson. Rahane had shown the inclination to bat till the 20th overs during the middle phase of the tournament. He had done the same in the league match against Mumbai at Jaipur. Whenever he has done that, Rajasthan have never lost. Watson is the key man who has the propensity to rise to the occasion in the knockout matches.

Rajasthan went with the five-pronged pace attack in the Eliminator. At the Eden Gardens they might be tempted to get the spinning options. Pravin Tambe has not looked threatening. Harmeet Singh, the left-arm spinner, has not played much cricket for them. So Brad Hogg might get a game as he was the preferred option when Rajasthan played against Kolkata at the Eden Gardens. He might replace Kevon Cooper.

James Faulkner has been taking wickets consistently for Rajasthan. He will be looking to do just the same against Mumbai with the new ball. Vikramjeet Malik took two quick wickets while opening the bowling against Hyderabad. Watson and Stuart Binny’s overs might be decisive on a slow Kolkata wicket. Siddharth Trivedi has been an asset to Rajasthan with his wicket-to-wicket bowling.

Expect an engrossing battle at the Eden Gardens. An entry into the final is at stake for both the teams and they have everything to play for.

Teams:

Mumbai Indians (Probable): Dwayne Smith, Aditya Tare, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, Rishi Dhawan, Mitchell Johnson, Lasith Malinga, Pragyan Ojha.

Rajasthan Royals (Probable): Ajinkya Rahane, Rahul Dravid (c), Shane Watson, Brad Hodge, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Dishant Yagnik (wk), Brad Hogg, James Faulkner, Siddharth Trivedi, Vikramjeet Malik.

Time: 20:00 IST | 14:30 GMT

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)