IPL 2021: Royals capable of knocking out Mumbai Indians

Ayaz Memon/Mumbai
Filed on October 5, 2021 | Last updated on October 5, 2021 at 12.05 am
Royals coach Kumar Sangakkara and captain Sanju Samson. (BCCI)

If this late surge from the Royals is sustained, it could lead Mumbai to an early exit from the tournament

Defending champions Mumbai Indians, on the precipice of being ousted prematurely this season, have to bring their A game into play on Tuesday against Rajasthan Royals — the team that stunned Chennai Super Kings the other night in a high-scoring contest.

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Chennai posted a massive 189 which looked insurmountable at the innings changeover, but the Royals’ top-order overhauled this with nonchalant ease.

True, RR have been the most inconsistent team. But if this late surge is sustained, it could lead Mumbai to an early exit from the tournament.

Mumbai’s apprehensions are essentially located in the poor form of the top order which otherwise bristles with brilliance.

Barring Quinton de Kock, none from the top 7 has batted consistently. Worthwhile contributions from Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya have been sporadic. Saurabh Tiwary has tried his best, but Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan have been huge disappointments.

This has put tremendous onus on bowlers to win games. In spite of having Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult, Krunal Pandya, Adam Milne/Nathan Coulter-Nile in the attack, success hasn’t been easily forthcoming. Even the best bowlers need a decent score to defend. The bowling also doesn’t have the richness of previous seasons as Rahul Chahar has been below par and Hardik has not bowled at all.

After a long time, Rohit has looked short of resources which, given the abundance of talent in the squad seems incongruous. The problem for Mumbai’s captain and coach is in finding the right combination and balance.

With Hardik not bowling, the absence of a sixth bowler has been felt. But keeping a batsman of Hardik’s finishing abilities out of the team does not seem an option either.

Rajasthan, missing several stalwarts, don’t have to deal with such worries. The issue for coach Kumar Sangakkara and captain Sanju Samson has been to harness the talent of those present to produce match-winning efforts. That hasn’t come easily. Too often, the team has been victim of their own impetuousness.

What can’t be denied is that the Royals have the wherewithal to upset any rival. The ‘star quotient’ in the side is far less compared to other teams. But they have youngsters with energy, gumption and ambition to cause upsets if they stop being reckless. In the second phase, RR have more victories than MI, which is an important stat going into this match.

For Mumbai, the only way out of this grim situation is for stalwarts to come up with their best in this crunch match. There is no more threatening – and thrilling – sight than Rohit, De Kock, Yadav, Pollard, the Pandya brothers, Bumrah and Boult performing at full tilt, which hasn’t been witnessed so far in the second phase.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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