MI will look to cement their place in the top four but RCB will not be pushovers © IANS
MI will look to cement their place in the top four but RCB will not be pushovers © IANS

As we draw towards the closing stages of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 group stage, the race to make it to the play-offs has only intensified. The race will be in full swing when Mumbai Indians (MI) take on the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Match 46 of the IPL 8, at Wankhede. Srinath Arvind speaks on his performance against Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2015

There’s no picking a single team as favourite in this encounter; both teams have fought with great resilience and grit in their recent matches. In fact both teams have had similar stories in the IPL 8 so far as both started badly, but have shown resurgence as the league progressed.

As far as making it to the play-off stages is concerned, a win will be extremely desirable for both sides. In the 11 games they have played, Mumbai Indians (MI) have been on the better side of the result on six occasions, losing the remaining five. Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) have played 10, won five, lost four and had one game washed out by rain. IPL 2015 : Stephen Felming believes Chennai Super Kings paid the price of dropping catches against Mumbai Indians

Though Mumbai may be ahead in terms of points, Bangalore are miles ahead in terms of net run rate (NRR), which could ultimately make the difference between the side that makes it to the play-offs and one that doesn’t. Since MI don’t have a good net run rate, they’ll have to focus on getting points by winning games.

While RCB do have the cushioning of a very healthy net run rate, they wouldn’t want to find themselves in a position where they don’t have enough points for the NRR to come in play at all. hence, a win will be just as crucial for the visiting side. CSK vs MI, Match 43 at Chennai: Pandya’s sixes and other highlights

Speaking of form, MI may be slightly ahead considering they have now won five games on the trot with their last win coming against table toppers Chennai Super Kings (CSK). However, RCB considering won their last match by 138 runs against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP), they surely don’t lack much by way of momentum themselves.

The key players for Mumbai Indians in the previous encounter were Jagadeesha Suchith, Ambati Rayudu, Parthiv Patel and Hardik Pandya. The fact that Mumbai defeated a top side like CSK without stars like Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma firing is indicative that they’re not being over-reliant on anyone and are playing as one unit. Chris Gayle’s handling by Royal Challengers Bangalore highlights importance of rotation policy in IPL

For RCB, the one man who stole the show was Chris Gayle in the last match smashing a 46-ball hundred while Sreenath Aravind came a close second taking four wickets. Apart from these, they were handy contributions from AB de Villiers, Mitchell Starc and Virat Kohli in the humiliation of KXIP.

Being played at Wankhede, the Mumbai Indians will be the crowd favourites and the Royal Challengers Bangalore will have to make themselves impervious to the passionate chanting of the Mumbai crowd in support of the home team. The crowd often adds to the difficulty of beating an in-form Mumbai Indians.VIDEO: Chris Gayle smashes 46-ball ton for RCB against KXIP

Mumbai Indians have a lot of things going in their favour for this crucial tie but given the importance of the clash the Royal Challengers Bangalore will put their best foot forward. The ingredients for an intense encounter are all present and the match should prove to be a cracker.

Mumbai Indian (MI): Rohit Sharma (c), Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Lendl Simmons, Vinay Kumar,Corey Anderson, Aiden Blizzard, Jasprit Bumrah, Aditya Tare, Pawan Suyal, Mitchell McClenaghan, Marchant de Lange, Unmukt Chand, Aaron Finch, Parthiv Patel, Siddhesh Lad, Abhimanyu Mithun, Shreyas Gopal, Pragyan Ojha, Hardik Pandya, J Suchith, Akshay Wakhare, Nitish Rana.

Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB): Virat Kohli (c), Chris Gayle, AB de Villiers, Darren Sammy, Mitchell Starc, Dinesh Karthik, Subramanium Badrinath, Sean Abbott, Adam Milne, Nic Maddinson, Ashok Dinda, Manvinder Bisla, Varun Aaron, Vijay Zol, Sarfaraz Khan, Jalaj Saxena, Shishir Bhavane, Iqbal Abdullah, David Wiese, Rilee Rossouw, Abu Nechim, Harshal Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Sandeep Warrier, Yogesh Takawale, Jalaj Saxena.     

Time: 16:00 local | 10:30 GMT

(Rishad D’Souza, a reporter with CricketCountry, gave up hopes of playing Test cricket after a poor gully-cricket career. He now reports on the sport. You can follow @RDcric on Twitter)