The Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals go head to head at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata in the second qualifier on Friday. With the Chennai Super Kings already into the finals, it is the last chance for both the teams to set up an appointment with the Super Kings for the IPL Trophy on May 25th at the same venue.
Having finished the league in second position, the Mumbai Indians were defeated by two-time champions Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier in Delhi. Chasing a stiff target of 193, Mumbai could only muster 144 runs before being bowled out in 18.4 overs. Dwayne Smith’s explosive innings (68 off 28 balls) was the silver lining in an otherwise dismal performance.
Mumbai though can take solace from have an outstanding record at the Eden Gardens, having won 4 out of their 5 matches. Their last visit to Kolkata resulted in a 5-wicket victory over the home team.
Sachin Tendulkar (287 runs) is expected to be fit for this match and his inclusion in the playing XI may lead to Aditya Tare missing out. Dwayne Smith (352 runs) has on many occasions scored quick runs in the powerplay overs. Rohit Sharma (534 runs) and Dinesh Karthik (467 runs) have anchored the innings in the middle overs.
Mitchell Johnson (22 scalps) has an impressive strike rate of 15.54 and would be looking to pick up some wickets after being hammered for 40 runs in his 4 overs against Chennai. Harbhajan Singh (19 scalps) has the knack of picking up crucial wickets and along with Pragyan Ojha (15 wickets), has the responsibility of checking the flow of runs in the middle overs. Not to forget Lasith Malinga (17 wickets), whose ability to bowl yorkers even in tense situations has won so many matches for Mumbai.
The Royals came from behind to beat Sunrisers Hyderabad in the eliminator thanks to veteran Brad Hodge who scored an unbeaten 54 from just 29 balls. Rahul Dravid (428 runs) and Ajinkya Rahane (467 runs) have provided solidity at the top of the order, while Shane Watson has looked in good touch right through the tournament, scoring 537 runs and picking up 12 wickets.
James Faulkner has been the crown jewel in the bowling department for the Royals with 27 wickets at an economy of 6.6. Kevon Cooper has also picked up 17 wickets but he has been expensive, going for 8.32 runs an over. Vikramjeet Malik produced an outstanding spell against the Sunrisers, picking up 2 wickets for just 14 runs from his 3 overs.
The Eden Gardens has not been a happy hunting ground for the Royals who have been able to win just once out of the 5 times they have played, with the win coming way back in 2008. The recent visit resulted in an 8-wicket drubbing at the hands of the Knight Riders, and the fact that the Royals’ two best spinners are sitting in jail doesn’t really help their cause at all.
Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik(wk), Rohit Sharma(c), Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu/Aditya Tare, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson, Lasith Malinga, Pragyan Ojha, Dhawal Kulkarni
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid(c), Ajinkya Rahane, Shane Watson, Dishant Yagnik(wk), Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Brad Hodge, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper, Vikramjeet Malik/Pravin Tambe, Siddarth Trivedi
Players to watch:
Harbhajan Singh: On a turning pitch in hot and humid conditions, Harbhajan’s off spin can be very difficult to handle for the opposition batsmen.
James Faulkner: Rahul Dravid will turn to Faulkner to pick up crucial wickets and prevent Dwayne Smith from going all berserk inside the powerplay.
Pitch: Eden Gardens has been known to provide assistance to the spinners, and it should be no different on Friday