Resurgent Mumbai Indians must beat Rajasthan Royals by huge margin to enter play-offs
Given the dreadful start Mumbai Indians endured during the first leg of the Indian Premier League (IPL-7) in the United Arab Emirates, not many would have believed that the defending champions would find themselves in contention for a place in the play-offs with a round of games still to go.
Harbhajan Singh at a practice session at Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. Pic/Suresh KK
But, belief, is precisely what Rohit Sharma's men didn't lack all through their campaign and it's this trait that could still see them fight their way into the top-four, provided they beat Rajasthan Royals today and also enjoy a better net run rate, at the Wankhede Stadium this evening.
Mumbai Indians, who beat Delhi Daredevils at the same venue on Friday, enter the contest on a high, simply for the fact that they have been near invincible at home, whereas the morale of the Royals was dented as they lost to table-toppers Kings XI Punjab in their previous clash at Mohali.
While RR have 14 points from 13 games, their opponents have 12 from as many clashes. But the former enjoy a NRR of +0.247 whereas MI are playing catch up on -0.086.
MI had an optional practice session at the Wankhede yesterday evening and most of the players who are likely to form the playing XI chose to rest.
Among the prominent players who turned up for the nets, supervised by coach John Wright and mentor Anil Kumble, were off-spinner Harbhajan Singh (he spent a lot of time batting though), left-arm-spinner Pragyan Ojha, Kiwi all-rounder Corey Anderson and Aditya Tare.
On the other hand RR opted to stay put in the hotel after arriving in the city in the afternoon. Nevertheless, their mentor Rahul Dravid along with coach Paddy Upton were seen in a long conversation besides the ropes even as MI practiced in the middle.
MI bank on openers
As far as today's contest is concerned, MI's top order which has fired in unison in the past few games needs to perform an encore in front of a side that has gained a reputation of battling hard under strenuous circumstances. Also Harbhajan, who has hit a purple patch after the initial struggles needs to bring all his experience into play and the rest they must leave to fate!
> If MI bat first, they need to win by at least 42 runs
> If MI is chasing, they need to achieve the target in around 15 overs, according to iplt20.com.