Wednesday, 17th April 2013
Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
RR- Win, Win, Loss, Win,
MI- Loss, Win, Win, Win,
Two teams with identical records take on each other at a ground that has witnessed a few classics over the years. The Royals are one of the best home teams in this form of cricket, and were near-invincible during the Warne era at Jaipur. Similarly, Mumbai Indians have been the most impressive ‘away’ team over the years- and have often held the advantage especially when traveling South to take on the stronger teams like Bangalore and Chennai.
Both teams enter this contest with 3 wins and one loss- with Mumbai looking the stronger in-form team as usual. The Royals recovered well from their crushing loss to perennial wooden spooners Warriors, and pulled off a boring, yet satisfactory win over the fast-sliding Kings XI team.
The all rounder who can’t bowl
Rajasthan Royals (Winners 2008)
It is always a foregone conclusion that Dravid’s men will win atleast one award every year- irrespective of their on-field form. The fairplay award will be theirs again, and while Dravid would like to believe that fair play does not hamper winning- this season is proving him wrong. His team’s performance against Kings XI Punjab was far from convincing, with Rahane and co. dragging a 120 target till the very last over, but the Royals have 6 points on the board from their first 4 games- their best start to a season since 2008 when they won the title. What will hurt them is the loss to Pune Warriors, a relative minnow, with a whole lot of major teams like Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata waiting next up.
X-factor: Shane Watson. The beleaguered Aussie all-rounder showed glimpses of form against Punjab- but threw away his wicket in a fashion that has made him a soft target for most fast bowlers over the last year. While his pull-swat has gotten its fair share of runs, it has been his downfall time and again.
Tendulkar firing in the previous game against the Warriors is a good sign for the team, with Karthik and Rohit Sharma currently the best middle-order partners in cricket. Ponting seems to have accepted the fact that he will virtually remain a non-playing captain, denying the likes of Hughes and Maxwell a game, after owner Ambani paid a minor fortune for their overseas players once again. The scary part for most teams, and a welcome change for Mumbai, has been the form of Mitchell Johnson- and the non form of Malinga. For the first time, they have not relied on Malinga and Munaf to shore up their bowling, and once the Sri Lankan comes back into form- it could be curtains for brittle lower orders.
X-Factor: Glenn Maxwell. Just for being able to bear the ignominy of becoming the second million-dollar buy in the league’s history to continue sitting on the bench. The first is Saurabh Tiwary.
Long lasting fans
Prediction: Apart from the top 3 in their batting order, Royals have never really been able to put in commanding performances- and have always been a bits and pieces team. Still, the likes of Cooper and Tait could eek out a win on home soil, because the law of averages will catch up with Karthik and Sharma.