Mumbai: The Wankhede Stadium is all set to once again witness fireworks as two of the top-notch teams lock horns in what is expected to be a battle of the behemoths. Both Mumbai and Rajasthan have made it to the top four, and with nothing to lose, both teams would expect nothing less than a stiff test before their IPL 6 play-off campaign gets underway.
There is nothing to choose between the two sides. Both have been at their dominating best and have defended their respective fortresses successfully. Rajasthan have had a turnaround since last season when Rahul Dravid took over. The veteran has led from the front and played vital innings throughout the tournament. A lot will be expected out of Shane Watson to continue his brilliant form and once again he will be the key factor as far as the visitors are concerned.
Rajasthan's batting order has been nothing short of impressive. Dravid (387 runs at 32.25) has provided solidity and with youngster Sanju Samson proving his worth, along with the likes of Brad Hodge and Stuart Binny, Rajasthan will be keen on continuing the good work they've done so far.
After miraculous run-chases in their last respective matches, Rajasthan would like to break Mumbai's undefeated streak at home. (BCCI)
With the ball, James Faulkner is fifth in the leading wicket-takers' list and has impressed with his immaculate line and length. Supported brilliantly by the ever-so-economical Siddharth Trivedi, Rajasthan have mainly banked on these two to provide crucial breakthroughs. Watson's ability with the ball has never been doubted and spinner Ajit Chandila has been the dark horse. After a blip, Kevon Cooper has come back with two strong performances.
The last time these two teams met, it turned out to be a one-sided contest with Rajasthan hammering Mumbai by 87 runs. However, Mumbai have been on a roll winning their last seven out of eight games and they would like to maintain their home record clean. After an enthralling win over the Sunrisers Hyderabad, where the team chased down 179, Mumbai's confidence would be rocket-high.
A hurricane innings from allrounder Kieron Pollard at the end of the innings snatched an impossible victory. Pollard's innings was very similar to Watson's knock against CSK. Mumbai's batting has always caught more attention than any. Sachin Tendulkar seems to have found the middle of his bat when it was required the most and his opening partner Dwayne Smith has done reasonably well. Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma have been the mainstay of the middle-order and Pollard's hitting has shown what the Trinidadian can do flexing his muscles.
Mitchell Johnson has been Mumbai's main man with the ball, besides his forgettable outing against Hyderabad. The Aussie left-arm quick has relocated his swing which has resulted in 20 wickets so far. Lasith Malinga continues to puzzle the batsmen with his variations and Harbhajan Singh is back among the wickets along with an impressive economy rate.
The two sides are going into this game with impressive run-chases behind them and Both Watson and Pollard have proved no total is safe, keeping in mind how the Wankhede wicket has played so far.
Mumbai Indians: 1 Sachin Tendulkar, 2 Dwayne Smith, 3 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 4 Rohit Sharma (capt), 5 Ambati Rayadu, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Harbhajan Singh, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Dhawal Kulkarni, 10 Pragyan Ojha, 11 Lasith Malinga
Rajasthan Royals: 1 Ajinkya Rahane, 2 Rahul Dravid (capt), 3 Shane Watson, 4 Sanju Samson, 5 Stuart Binny, 6 Brad Hodge, 7 Dishyant Yagnik (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Kevon Cooper, 10 Siddharth Trivedi, 11 Ajit Chandila