IPL 2021: MI, RCB look for that missing spark

AB de Villiers will hope to find his best form against Mumbai. — BCCI
AB de Villiers will hope to find his best form against Mumbai. — BCCI

Mumbai - They have lost both their matches after the tournament resumed

By Ayaz Memon

Published: Sat 25 Sep 2021, 11:11 PM

The second game on Super Sunday will see the Mumbai Indians lock horns with Royal Challengers Bangalore.

MI and RCB have lost both their matches after the tournament resumed, and while the latter are still holding a place in the top four on the points table, there has been quite a big erosion in their net run rate, which could come to bite them later if they don’t start winning immediately.

Their rivals, defending champions MI, have been toppled from No.4 to No.6 on the table. A win could see them back in the top four. A defeat won’t necessarily extinguish their chances this season but will increase the difficulty quotient of reaching the playoffs, manifold.

It’s not been a happy past week for Virat Kohli, in his last season as IPL and India captain in T20s. Not for Rohit Sharma, five-times title winner for Mumbai Indians and captain-in-waiting of India’s T20 side. The teams they lead were in the top four when the league resumed, but after losing two consecutive matches, both RCB and MI are unsure of places in the playoffs.

The problem for both teams has been in the batting. MI failed to overhaul 156 in their opening match on a flat pitch, then scored only 155 in the second match, let down in both instances by the top order. Rohit missing the first game because of a niggle was obviously a setback, but his presence in the second didn’t quite change the result.

Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan have been notable failures for MI, falling more to impetuous strokes rather than unplayable deliveries. MI’s brand of cricket is for these players to attack, but with the team weakened in Hardik Pandya’s absence, it was incumbent on one or both to temper their adventurousness.

Hardik’s return would bring MI back to full strength though he and Rohit, still recovering from injuries, maybe a little cautious on the field. Runs are also needed from the big Kieron Pollard’s blade which makes MI so intimidating. The bowlers have done extremely well, but without adequate support from the batting, their efforts have come to naught.

In RCB’s case, the bowlers have barely got into the equation. Bowled out for a measly 92 against KKR, there was little the hapless bowlers could do. In the second match, the batting performance was much better, but not good enough on a small ground which gave the bowlers grudging assistance. Had RCB made 180-plus, which seemed likely after a century opening partnership, their bowlers could have been effective.

Some good news for RCB was Kohli finding his form. The half-century against CSK, while not made at searing pace, had surety of footwork and some sizzling strokes. Unfortunately for RCB, AB de Villiers and Glenn Maxwell, out of cricket since May when the tournament got suspended, look rusty. In a top-heavy batting side, even a couple of batsmen not delivering becomes detrimental to the cause.

Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator

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