With six Mumbai-based players in their ranks, today's Rajasthan Royals match against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium is almost a home tie for Royals
Today's Mumbai Indians versus Rajasthan Royals Indian Premier League contest could be a battle within itself. After all, Shane Watson's RR have six Mumbai-based players — Ajinkya Rahane, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pravin Tambe, Abhishek Nayar, Dinesh Salunkhe and Pradeep Sahu — would be up against their Mumbai Ranji Trophy teammates at Wankhede Stadium.
Rajasthan Royals' Ajinkya Rahane stretches during a practice session at the Wankhede yesterday
Out of these six Mumbai lads, Rahane and Tambe have figured in all eight IPL-8 matches for RR, while Kulkarni has played two matches less than his state mates.
The Wankhede Stadium is like home for Orange Cap holder Rahane (323 runs), leg-spinner Tambe, pace bowler Kulkarni and all-rounder Nayar, who has captained the Mumbai Ranji Trophy team in the past.
Salunkhe and Sahu ply their trade on Mumbai's local circuit. It can be recalled Sahu, who played first-class cricket for Haryana, claimed all 10 wickets in an innings for Payyade Sports Club during a Dr HD Kanga Cricket League 'A' Division match at MIG Cricket Club, Bandra last November.
RR spinner Pravin Tambe bowls at the Wankhede nets. Pics/Suresh KK
However, Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma, who turned 28 yesterday, is not too bothered about Rajasthan Royals having several Mumbai players in their ranks. "We can look at it this way… that we know their strengths and weaknesses and they know ours. So, it doesn't make much of a difference.
"Conditions will play a part because they have played most of their cricket here and know a bit about this ground. I don't think it will have a huge bearing on the game. But sometimes having too much information about the conditions can sometimes play on the mind which can go against you. As a captain, even I know about their weaknesses," Rohit said on match eve.
Just a coincidence
Rajasthan Royals team mentor, Rahul Dravid said it was just a coincidence that most of the Mumbai players are with RR. "Honestly, I don't look at players whether they are from Mumbai or Karnataka. We don't take that into the equation. It was an auction. Someone like Rahane came to us from MI. He has great potential and we looked to give him opportunities. "We look for players with different skills that we need.
For a leg spinner, Tambe just happens to be from Mumbai. One of the things I find is that boys from Mumbai are lot more game-aware than players from other states because they play so many matches than others. A 13 or 14-year-old plays three to four-day games and that does not happen anywhere else," said Dravid.
Total number of matches Rajasthan Royals have won at Wankhede Stadium