Finally we get a game that will keep everyone engrossed as Royal Challengers Bangalore host Mumbai Indians at the Chinnaswamy Stadium on Monday. The encounter is of great importance for both the teams. A win for Mumbai will almost take them into the Indian Premier League season five playoffs. So far, they have won eight of their 13 ties. If Bangalore emerge victorious, it will be their eighth win in 14 matches and their chances for the next stage will brighten up a great deal.
Both teams have returned to their best with convincing wins in the last few matches. Mumbai have won four out of their last five matches and their thumping 27-run win against formidable Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday will have boosted their confidence not a little. Rohit Sharma’s return to form is another good news for them. It was his 109 not out off 60 balls that really set it up against Gautam Gambhir’s men.
However, in the previous encounter between Mumbai and Bangalore, the latter had come out on top. And just like that game, the Chris Gayle factor again stands in the way of the visitors. The West Indian, who scored 82 not out off 59 balls to lead RCB to a nine-wicket earlier this week, is in the form of his life. The Orange Cap holder with 572 runs at a startling average of 57.20 is one main reason behind RCB’s recent revival. It’s true that AB de Villiers has also weighed in with some stellar performances but it’s mainly been Gayle at the top who has made all the difference.
If Mumbai can get him out early, half the job is done for them. However, it won’t be easy for Harbhajan’s men. Gayle has become even more dangerous this season: he has become patient and waits for poor balls. The impetuosity we generally associate him with seems to be a thing of the past. With three successive wins, RCB go into this match with supreme confidence.
Things are looking quite good for Mumbai as well. Opening was an issue but that seems to have been sorted out with the inclusion of veteran South African opener Herschelle Gibbs who got his first game against Kolkata and made an unbeaten 66. His solidity allowed Rohit to open his shoulders at the other end. Mumbai bat really deep with Harbhajan coming at No.8. Their bowling is probably the best in the tournament with Lasith Malinga spearheading the attack. The Sri Lankan pacer has taken 20 wickets in 10 matches with an economy rate of 5.46 and is just two wickets away from overtaking Delhi Daredevils’ Morne Morkel as the highest wicket-taker.
When all is said and done, there is not much to choose between the teams and that’s precisely why it is being expected to be a humdinger.
Mumbai Indians: 1 Sachin Tendulkar, 2 Herschelle Gibbs, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 5 Ambati Rayudu, 6 Dwayne Smith, 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Harbhajan Singh (capt), 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Munaf Patel
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Chris Gayle, 2 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 3 Virat Kohli (capt), 4 Sourabh Tiwary, 5 AB de Villiers, 6 Mayank Agarwal, 7 Vinay Kumar, 8 Zaheer Khan, 9 Harshal Patel, 10 Muttiah Muralitharan, 11 KP Appanna