Royals, MI in keen race

Royals, MI in keen race

Still in with a chance to make the play-offs, title-holders Mumbai Indians will take on former champions Rajasthan Royals here on Sunday in what is a virtual knock-out game to make the final four of IPL-7.

Rajasthan are the front-runners to make the knockout stage with 14 points in their kitty and need to just defeat Mumbai to sail through. But it would be difficult task in the Mumbai’s fortress which has been breached just once by Chennai Super Kings going back to last season.

Rajasthan have a better net run-rate of +0.247.

Mumbai, on 12 points, seem to be on a roll after convincing back to back wins over Kings XI Punjab on May 21 and Delhi Daredevils on Friday. They have a net run rate of -0.086 and would not only have to win but do it with a handsome margin to make the grade.

Mumbai produced some good performances after the IPL switched back to India following the first phase in the UAE where Rohit Sharma and his men tasted five defeats in a row.

The team has shown character and determination to bounce back from this dismal beginning, a point noted by their veteran Australian opener Michael Hussey after the win over the bottom-placed Daredevils.

When the two teams met previously at Ahmedabad on May 19, Mumbai emerged convincing victors by 25 runs, but the hosts are missing the services of their death-bowling king Lasith Malinga who is busy representing Sri Lanka in the series in England.

Added to this was the freak ankle injury sustained by their late recruit Praveen Kumar on Friday after the toss, following the loss of the key bowler he had replaced -- Zaheer Khan -- due to a side strain. He’s a doubtful starter against the Royals.

The plus side for Mumbai has been the return to form of Hussey after a string of low scores in UAE that cost him his place in the playing eleven, and his successful opening combination with West Indian Lendl Simmons who has scored the only century of the tournament so far.

In bowling, the addition of young Karnataka leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal has added teeth with Harbhajan Singh being in his elements.

The visitors, on the other hand, possess a very good line-up but need to send their power-hitters Brad Hodge and James Faulkner much higher up the order than they had done in the recent past.
Captain Shane Watson has to quickly put behind his Friday’s first ball duck.

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