Having snatched victory from the jaws of defeat against Sunrisers Hyderabad, heavyweights Mumbai Indians would have their tails up when they take on Rajasthan Royals in their final IPL home game on Wednesday.
The positives from the match against SRH at their impregnable bastion, Wankhede Stadium, would be taken by table toppers Mumbai into the contest against a fighting and upbeat Rajasthan in what promises to be a no-holds barred contest.
The reward for a win for either team is a sure shot place in the play-offs and a chance to finish the league in the top two positions.
Mumbai all-rounder Kieron Pollard's blistering attack in the last four overs of the contest against Hyderabad must have sent alarm bells ringing for the Royals who have come here on a high after winning all eight home games.
Their earlier clash at Jaipur on April 17 was a disaster for Mumbai who were bundled out for a lowly 92 in 18.2 overs chasing the Royals' imposing score of 179 for 3 built mainly around local boy Ajinkya Rahane's unbeaten 68 off 54 balls.
Similar to the visitors' unbeaten run at home, Mumbai too have been unscathed in seven games in their backyard this season but they very nearly came a cropper against Sun Risers.
The best news for Mumbai is the return of Pollard at his best which guided the team home despite needing more than two runs a ball when he arrived at the crease.
Pollard's timely reminder of his abilities could not have come at a better time for the home team with the most important phase of the tournament coming up soon.
Mumbai have got decent if not spectacular starts from Sachin Tendulkar and Dwayne Smith in most of the games, but a worrying factor could be the senior India batsman's retirement from the crease after he felt some unease in his palm while hitting a six in the last game.
The dip in form of Smith in the last few games must also be causing a bit of concern and it remains to be seen whether Ricky Ponting makes a return to the playing XI after sitting out many games due to lack of form.
Dinesh Karthik (435 runs from 14 games) and skipper Rohit Sharma, who has been in splendid form with 457 runs, including four half tons at just over 54 per innings, have been the middle order bulwarks.
With Pollard showing enough signs he can cause mayhem when required, especially at this ground where the track is good for hitting through the line, the lone worry in the middle has been the poor form of Ambati Rayudu who has notched up only 163 runs so far.
Mumbai bowling has been manned splendidly by pacers Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga (20 and 13 wickets respectively) and the spin twins of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha (17 and 14).
Royals too must also be pretty pleased with the recent run of Shane Watson who is a match-winner with both bat and ball (483 runs and 8 wickets from 12 games).
A Watson-Pollard skirmish within the larger battle also looks a mouth-watering prospect.
Ajinkya Rahane, for whom this is his Ranji Trophy home ground, has been the most consistent batsman for the visitors with 433 runs from 14 games along with skipper Rahul Dravid (387 from 14).
The surprise packet has been Stuart Binny who has been a vital cog with his all-round prowess (219 runs and 5 wickets).
With the lanky James Faulkner (19 wickets) and Kevan Cooper (16) spearheading the new ball attack in splendid fashion, Royals' only worry could be a lack of effective spin bowling options.
Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (Capt), Ajinkya Rahane, Ajit Chandila, Ankeet Chavan, Ashok Menaria, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Dishant Yagnik, Harmeet Singh, James Faulkner, Kumar Boresha, Kevon Cooper, Kusal Janith Perera, Owais Shah, Pravin Tambe, Rahul Shukla, S Sreesanth, Sachin Baby, Samuel Badree, Sanju Samson, Shane Watson, Shaun Tait, Shreevats Goswami, Siddharth Trivedi, Stuart Binny, Vikramjeet Malik.
Mumbai Indians: Ricky Ponting (Capt), Abu Nechim Ahmed, Akshar Patel, Aditya Tare, Aiden Blizzard, Ambati Rayudu, Amitoze Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dinesh Karthik, Dwayne Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Harbhajan Singh, Jacob Oram, Jalaj Saxena, James Franklin, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson, Munaf Patel, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Phil Hughes, Pawan Suyal, Pragyan Ojha, Rishi Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Suryakumar Yadav, Sushant Marathe, Yuzvendra Singh Chahal.
Published Date: May 15, 2013 10:00 AM | Updated Date: May 15, 2013 10:00 AM