Defending champions Mumbai Indians will look to sort out their mid-level issues and get their campaign back on track when they face an inconsistent Rajasthan Royals in an IPL game on Thursday.
MI enters the game after suffering back-to-back losses, the latest being a nine-wicket loss to the Punjab Kings in Chennai and must restart the Delhi round.
Rajasthan led by Sanju Samson have lost three times in the tournament so far and will look to build on the six-wicket victory over the Kolkata Knight Riders in the previous match.
Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma (201 points) had a start but didn’t play a big shot and Mumbaikar would be eager to get one, as would their opening partner Quinton De Kock (47 points).
But the Mumbai Intermediate Order, which boasts of hard-hitting drummers like Suryakumar Yadav (154 races), Ishan Kishan (73 races), Hardik Pandya (36 races), Krunal Pandya (29 races) and Kieron Pollard (65 races), hasn’t pulled in unison so far.
Middle order can put up any good offense on any day and Sharma is hoping their hitter kicks in on Thursday when the action moves to Feroz Shah Kotla’s field here.
In the bowling department, the rhythm of the duo of Trent Boult (6 wickets) and Jasprit Bumrah (4 wickets) was exceptional, especially in terms of death.
Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar (9 wickets) and Krunal (3 wickets) were also impressive and will have to play their roles to perfection again.
Pollard is used as a fifth or sixth pitcher even though Hardik is only playing as a batsman.
Mumbai, however, could play Adam Milne in place of Jayant Yadav.
Rajasthan, on the other hand, has a lot of issues to contemplate, especially in the absence of key foreign players – Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes, Liam Livingstone and Andrew Tye.
RR does not yet have an established opening combination. They tried Manan Vohra (42 points) and Yashasvi Jaiswal (22 points) in the lead, but both failed to convert their starts.
Englishman Jos Buttler would need to score big to compliment his skipper Sanju Samson, who is the team’s top scorer (187) despite his inconstancy.
And the likes of Shivam Dube, David Miller and Riyan Parag, are expected to support the First Order by making much-needed contributions.
The versatile Chris Morris (9 wickets and 48 tracks) blew hot and cold and will be under pressure again to deliver his high price.
Left arm pacer Chetan Sakariya (7 wickets) was a revelation, while the experienced duo of Jaydev Unadkat (4 wickets) and Mustafizur Rahman (4 wickets) were decent. The three left-arm pointers with Morris, however, need to be consistent.
Leg spinner Rahul Tewatia has only got one wicket in five games, while Shreyas Gopal, another leggie, has no wicket in the two games he’s played.
Tewatia’s role would be crucial if the Royals aimed to contain the MI batting team, keeping Amit Mishra’s performance for Delhi in mind.
Dew will not be a factor on Thursday as it is an afternoon game.
Teams (from): Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma, Adam Milne, Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Arjun Tendulkar, Chris Lynn, Dhawal Kulkarni, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, James Neesham, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard , Krunal Pandya, Marco Jansen, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Piyush Chawla, Quinton De Kock (WK), Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult, Yudhvir Singh.
Rajasthan Royals: Sanju Samson (c & wk), Jos Buttler (wk), Yashasvi Jaiswal, Manan Vohra, Anuj Rawat, Riyan Parag, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Mahipal Lomror, Shreyas Gopal, Mayank Markande, Jaydev Unadkat, Kartik Tyagi, Shivam Dube, Chris Morris, Mustafizur Rahman, Chetan Sakariya, KC Cariappa, Kuldip Yadav, Akash Singh.
Start of the match at 3.30 p.m.