Saturday, April 27th 2013
Wankhede stadium, Mumbai
MI- Loss, Win, Win, Loss, Win, Loss, Win,
RCB- Win, Win, Loss, Win, Win, Loss, Win, Win,
Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore face off for the second time this season, with both teams coming off important wins in a top-of-table clash.
Nohit to Hit
The teams played their first game against eachother at Bangalore, in one of the first games in this season, only for RCB to shatter their jinx at their own Chinnaswamy stadium after four consecutive losses to Mumbai at home. That was a game that RCB had no business to win, and it set the tone for the rest of their season. With competition halfway through, RCB have easily been the most dynamic, exciting and even consistent team already- topping the table with a massive NRR advantage, thanks to Gayle’s record-breaking feats.
A close win at Eden Gardens means that their stuttering 2013 campaign is back on track, but only just. If not for Harbhajan’s lusty blow in the final over, MI could have very well found themselves where KKR are right now- one of the shocks of the tournament languishing towards the bottom at the halfway stage. It was a do-or-die game for both teams, struggling to find any sort of consistency or X factor.
This is 40
Ricky Ponting made the wisest decision for his team this year, by dropping himself to include Mitchell Johnson- who proved that he was easily the best bowler for their team this season once again. Rohit Sharma led the team for the first time- and captaincy seems to have a good effect on the ‘talented’ kid, with him expressing Kohlisque levels of passion, frustration and animation at tense junctions. He will, of course, be the first to blame himself for getting dismissed at the worst time possible.
His team will now take on the most feared team in 2013- and RCB isn’t only feared for Gaylestorms anymore. They have the top two run-scorers as well as purple cap holders at any point of time. The only advantage for Mumbai will be their much-needed home support.
Marley and Me
X-factor: Dwayne Smith. Yet another West Indian made his presence felt at the top of an T20 team, and made up for a struggling Tendulkar and Karthik. Along with Rohit Sharma, Smith proved that he has come a long way from his one-six-wonder days where he would refuse to cross the score of 8 after a single blow into the stands.
Royal Challengers Bangalore:
While everyone, including his own team, recovers from his assault on Pune Warriors only a fortnight ago- Chris Gayle is no doubt thinking about a certain consistency level that he aspires to achieve. Often, after a huge score or a century, he falls for single-digit scores to unknown spinners- and will have to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Of course, there is Dilshan getting back into form- as well as the throbbing Kohli and unstoppable De Villiers- all 3 capable of being the best batsman in the world on their day. With Vinay Kumar and RP Singh overachieving like never before, this team seems to have found an eclectic mix of cricketers that display qualities rarely seen before in the company that owns the team (and disowns its employees). Gayle v/s Malinga and Johnson will be a battle to watch out for- which could mean that Gayle will target the ‘weaker’ bowlers in the MI lineup, in other words, Harbhajan Singh.
X-factor: Impossible to look beyond the obvious- Gayle. But Dilshan could be the key if the West Indian fails. The Sri Lankan is known to dominate minnows across the world, but needs to prove himself as a batsman in a team that isn’t exactly out of options at the top of the order.
Prediction: Mumbai Indians will turn around their season with this one. Sachin Tendulkar will have a lot to say about people mentioning the number ‘40’ with a smirk on their faces.