RCB, MI seek play-off ticket

RCB, MI seek play-off ticket

RCB skipper Virat Kohli (right) and AB de Villiers, who generally excel against the Mumbai Indians, will be eyeing strong shows when the two sides lock horns. Credit: AFP Photo

Smarting after stinging defeats, both Royal Challengers Bangalore and Mumbai Indians will be looking to regroup quickly and book a play-off spot when they lock horns in a mouth-watering IPL clash at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

Early high-fliers Royal Challengers were brought back to the ground on Sunday when an out-of-sorts Chennai Super Kings beat them handsomely while Mumbai Indians were left dazed by the brilliance of Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson as Rajasthan Royals pulled off a superb high-speed run chase. The defeats though haven’t really dented the play-off hopes of RCB and MI with both teams locked on 14 points from 11 games, the latter placed higher owing to a superior run rate.

Wednesday presents an opportunity for both teams to secure a knockout ticket but injuries to key players has caused some anxiety in both camps with Mumbai Indians appearing more worried. Regular skipper Rohit Sharma has missed the last two games due to a hamstring injury and with the Mumbaikar excluded from the Australia tour, there were speculations galore that he may have played his last IPL game this season. But MI, to the bewilderment of many, posted photos and a video of the opener batting in the ‘nets’.

Those posts only added fuel to the speculation with even the great Sunil Gavaskar saying the BCCI needs to come clear on Rohit’s fitness status as he’s a centrally contracted player. On match eve too there wasn’t any update on Rohit’s fitness and in his absence, MI’s long-serving Keiron Pollard will continue to don the skipper’s hat.

RCB, on the other hand, will be hoping Navdeep Saini recovers quickly after splitting the webbing in his right hand during the game against Chennai on Sunday. It all likelihood RCB will chose to rest the pacer which means Umesh Yadav may return in a like-for-like replacement. But since the Abu Dhabi track has been getting slower by the day, RCB may even be tempted to play an extra spinner in Shahbaz Ahmed.

RCB, who haven’t qualified for play-offs the last three seasons, know this a great chance to end that horror run. Pretty much everything is working well for them and they wouldn’t want to leave it until the end to secure their play-off berth. RCB also will be determined to finish in the top of the standings as that would give them an extra shot at qualifying for the final.

Mumbai too have played like champions this season. Their batting, bowling and fielding have been brilliant with everyone chipping. That has made them favourites to retain the crown. The first time MI and RCB met this season, the game was a cracker that had to be settled in a Super Over. Given what’s at stake on Wednesday, another high-voltage clash in on the cards.