After a much-needed win against Deccan Chargers in their last match, Royal Challengers Bangalore are now all set to confront tough challengers Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday. After two consecutive losses prior to that match, Bangalore emerged as strong competitors by defeating Deccan in a tie where AB de Villiers took stroke-making to another level. Batting has been Bangalore’s saviour in this tournament so far. Chris Gayle and de Villiers have carried the team with some really powerful performances.
However, the team’s trusted middle-order batsman Virat Kohli has not fired yet, while Tillakaratne Dilshan has also been inconsistent and bit slow by his standards. Indian players like Mayank Agarwal have also not been able to hold their nerves in crunch situations. But still it’s been Bangalore’s batting that has kept them in the hunt. In fact it’s their bowling that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Zaheer Khan is doing a nice job but he is far from his best. Captain Daniel Vettori is having an IPL to forget and in all likelihood he won’t play on Wednesday to give another match to Sri Lankan talisman Muttiah Muralitharan, who impressed one and all with his guile in the last match. He was the only Bangalore bowler who could keep the Deccan batsmen in check.
For Mumbai, the return to form of Sachin Tendulkar has emboldened the team not a little. The veteran batsman played a key role in their successful chase against Chennai Super Kings in their last match with a brilliant 74. Another plus point for the team is the inclusion of the West Indies allrounder Dwayne Smith, who delivered the killer blow to the MS Dhoni-led team in the final over by scoring 14 off just three balls to take his team over the line. His innings is likely to cement his place in the playing eleven for Wednesday's tie.
Mumbai’s bowling is their strength and Lasith Malinga remains the biggest threat. The good news is that captain Harbhajan Singh and RP Singh have also hit top gear, making the team’s bowling a real deal. Munaf is the only bowler who is a concern right now but with huge his experience he can hit top gear any time.
Of 11 matches so far, Mumbai have been the victors on seven occasions. As for Bangalore, they have won five of their 11 matches with one washed out. It remains to be seen whether the home crowd cheers for their city boy Zaheer or their home team. The game will be a crucial one, however as both teams are still in content_cnion to make the play-offs.
Mumbai Indians: 1 James Franklin, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Dwayne Smith, 7 Robin Peterson, 8 Harbhajan Singh (capt), 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 RP Singh, 11 Munaf Patel
Royal Challengers Bangalore: 1 Tillakaratne Dilshan, 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Virat Kohli, 4 Asad Pathan, 5 AB de Villiers (wk), 6 Mayank Agarwal, 7 Syed Jamaluddin, 8 Zaheer Khan, 9 Abhimanyu Mithun, 10 P Parameswaran, 11 Muttiah Muralitharan