Rajasthan Royals face a must-win match against table-toppers Mumbai Indians as they aim to keep their chances for playoff qualification alive. After Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab registered victories on Saturday, the RR face a herculean task which requires winning all of their remaining games -- starting from today.
RR faced a heavy 8-wicket defeat at the hands of Sunrisers Hyderabad in their previous match and are currently seventh in the table. The side faces inconsistencies in their batting order and would hope for a collective performance from their top-4 -- overseas batsmen in particular, who have been underwhelming, to say the least.
Mumbai Indians, meanwhile, gained momentum after outclassing Chennai Super Kings by 10 wickets in their last match. Their bowling lineup ran through the CSK batting order, reducing them to 43/7 at one stage before Sam Curran fought back to steer the side past the hundred-run mark.
Rohit's absence was hardly felt against CSK as the young Ishan Kishan (68*) launched into CSK bowlers with gusto. So did Quinton De Kock (46*), continuing his sublime run.
In the event of Rohit missing out on Sunday as well, the two will open again.
Mumbai's middle-order has also been among runs -- be it Suryakumar Yadav (243 runs), Hardik Pandya (164 runs), swashbuckling West Indian all-rounder Kieron Pollard (208 runs) or Krunal Pandya (82 runs).
With their big-hitting ability, the Pandya brothers and Pollard are a threat to any opposition.
The two have accounted for 33 wickets, while Australian Nathan Coulter-Nile (2 wickets) has supported the duo. Spinners Krunal (5 wickets) and Rahul Chahar (13 wickets) are equally aggressive in the middle overs.
For Rajasthan, the biggest worry is the form of skipper Steve Smith, who has made 265 runs from 11 matches and a mis-firing top-order.
In the course of the season, Rajasthan have made constant changes at the top and that has hurt them badly.
The team does possess quality players like Ben Strokes (110 runs), Sanju Samson (272 runs) and Jos Buttler (271 runs), but the trio has failed to deliver collectively.
With two crucial points at stake, the management would be hoping that the three click on Sunday, something which has not happened this season.
All-rounder Rahul Tewatia (224 runs and 7 wickets) has been a revelation with both the bat and ball, but too much is being left for him to achieve.
On the bowling front too, RR lack consistency.
Only Jofra Archer (15 wickets) has been effective with his pace but has failed to get support from fellow pacers Karthik Tyagi, Jaydev Unadkat and Ankit Rajpoot, who have 12 wickets combined. Spinner Shreyas Gopal has leaked 343 runs from 11 games.
Stokes, as a bowler, has also been unimpressive and has failed to get a single wicket so far.
RR head coach Andrew McDonald said the team has not been able to be at its best and it chances of making the play-offs are fading.
"Our destiny is probably in other teams' hands now and as for us we need to keep believing, our challenge is seven wins and we'll try to give our best to achieve that," he conceded.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Aditya Tare, Anmolpreet Singh, Anukul Roy, Chris Lynn, Dhawal Kulkarni, Digvijay Deshmukh, Hardik Pandya, Ishan Kishan, James Pattison, Jasprit Bumrah, Jayant Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mohsin Khan, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Prince Balwant Rai, Quinton De Kock, Rahul Chahar, Saurabh Tiwary, Sherfane Rutherford, Suryakumar Yadav, Trent Boult.
Rajasthan Royals: Jos Buttler, Ben Stokes, Sanju Samson, Andrew Tye, Kartik Tyagi, Steven Smith (c), Ankit Rajpoot, Shreyas Gopal, Rahul Tewatia, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Mahipal Lomror, Oshane Thomas, Riyan Parag, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Anuj Rawat, Akash Singh, David Miller, Manan Vohra, Shashank Singh, Varun Aaron, Tom Curran, Robin Uthappa, Aniruddha Joshi, Jofra Archer.