Match#8: Royal Challengers Bangalore v/s Mumbai Indian
Form Guide: RCB- Win, MI- Win,
From back-benchers to front of the class, it has been one hell of a turnaround for both these teams over the last few years.
Watching them both play eachother in the first edition of the IPL was remnant of an exciting game between the famous Argentina and brilliant Brazilian national cricket teams. Needless to mention, both of them tried their best to lose- but a panic-stricken Mumbai Indians side succeeded eventually. Those were the days when Dr. Mallya refused to acknowledge the tiny divide between Test cricket and T20s- and famously selected a doomed ‘Test squad’ with the help of the evergreen Charu Sharma and the trusting Anil Kumble.
Mumbai Indians themselves lost their first 4 games in a row, and nothing seemed to go right for them. Despite a minor revolution in the middle of the league (aided by Shaun Pollock’s relentless accuracy and Sanath Jayasuriya’s relentless inconsistency), they floundered at the end and finished one spot above their ordinary South Indian counterparts.
But life is very different now. Even Jacques Kallis seems to have grown hair magically (the Harsha effect) and after helping the Royal Challengers develop into a strong contender over 2 consistent and stroke-filled seasons, he is now offering his superman services to the still-hapless Knight Riders.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: (Finalists 2009, Semi finalists 2010)
A comprehensive win in their first game against a formidable Kochi outfit has done wonders to the confidence of a newly-altered nervous Bangalore lineup- a team that was formed after a mad shopping spree during the auction with one solitary aim: Ransack the Delhi Daredevils!
The match took a familiar turn when homeboy Sreesanth started venomously, but soon led his bowlers into collective oblivion once AB de Villiers took charge for Bangalore. With their new captain Vettori at the helm, the Challengers look like living upto their name once again against the eternal favourites Mumbai.
Player to watch out for: T. Dilshan. Still hurting from a forgettable World Cup final, the Sri Lankan dasher is also keen to make up for his colossal failure during the last IPL for Delhi.
Also, Zak (or the highest wicket taker of the 2011 world cup- as he is now known) is back to Bangalore- and unless he makes a wise crack about teammate Dilshan’s T20 form (or anything resembling a ‘world cup’), things should run smoothly for the well-balanced team.
Mumbai Indians: (finalists- 2010)
The Malinga Indians destroyed Delhi impressively on Sunday, but of course, it was the handiwork of one vengeance-minded (toe-obsessed) Sri Lankan bowler with a fiery mop on his head.
It will be interesting to see how the rest of the team perform- if actually given a chance to do so. Sachin carried on from where he left off last year, and he is definitely planning to carry his bat through on more than one occasion. The ‘accumulator’ is back, and how. The rest of the batting is yet to be tested, and a prolific Rohit Sharma has been snatched up in the auction by the Ambanis like he was prime real estate.
The best team of last year (except the finals) will hope to go one better this time- and another ‘Do it for Sachin’ chant might begin.
Player to watch out for: Rohit Sharma. The talented Borivli boy must be smarting from his (deserved) exclusion from the World Cup squad. Of course, being called the next Sachin only adds to the aura that surrounds this mysteriously slim player.
Davy Jacobs, the mercurial South African wicketkeeper will also be hoping to prove a point after a disappointing opening game.
Prediction: Too close to call. Both teams might just need that spurt of sudden individual brilliance to tilt the game into their favour. Mumbai have the edge there- and unless Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds decide to converse in an ancient infamous pre-historic language, things look bright for the favourites once again.