RCB begin intense away stretch with heavyweight clash
Mumbai Indians vs Royal Challengers Bangalore 8 PM
Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
The Royal Challengers Bangalore start an arduous stretch of the team’s IPL 6 campaign, playing 6 consecutive away games beginning with their match against the Mumbai Indians on Saturday night.
Halfway through the campaign, RCB have won 6 of their first 8 matches and with the two losses being close affairs, have looked the most consistent team of the tournament. The bowlers have bowled to plans, making regular strikes at the M Chinnaswamy but the unit will be tested at Mumbai, especially without Zaheer. Muttiah Muralitharan could come in to lend his experience if the team plays an extra Indian batsman in place of Tillakaratne Dilshan.
Dilshan also has few runs to show in a strong top four batting line up that has performed well this season and he will want to join the fun. Chris Gayle is in imperious form following his record smashing 175* in the previous match. Virat Kohli is second on the run getters list after Gayle but with low scores in his last two games, will want to make an impact here. AB de Villiers has not had much of a role to play so far but is a dependable player. Saurabh Tiwary showed composure against Rajasthan and hopefully will be able to repeat that performance against his former franchise if needed.
Mumbai’s bowlers have had a poor run in their away games but the story will be different at the Wankhede. If an off the boil Lasith Malinga finds his rhythm, coupled with the in-form Mitchell Johnson, they will be a hard opening pair to survive. If not those two, Rohit Sharma could also opt to trouble Chris Gayle with his nemesis, off spin.
Rohit Sharma might lead the team again if Ricky Ponting continues to sit out. Dwayne Smith has earned a longer run in the opening slot, taking away the final overseas player berth in the Mumbai playing eleven. Sharma is the form batsman for MI, more than Dinesh Karthik who has cooled off after his stupendous start to the tournament. Sachin Tendulkar too has had a bad run in away matches but can easily play anchor at the Wankhede.
Kieron Pollard has been good whenever given the chance and remains a matchwinner even as an all rounder. Ambati Rayudu has receded in the batting order but showed in the tight chase against Kolkata that he can still be counted on in tough situations. Harbhajan and Johnson can also pinch hit and are capable of going berserk from the first ball they face. Pragyan Ojha has had limited success and his economy rate has been weak as well so he will be a bowler RCB try to target.
RCB have recent form and even a past record: 2-0 against MI at the Wankhede to back them going into this. With a challenging phase of their campaign about to begin, it’s time RCB builds on this momentum.