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Winless Mumbai Indians seek succour in Pune

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History will remind Mumbai Indians, winless in three, that it is not panic time yet. They’ve even won the championship after losing four at the start. That turnaround, seven years ago, coincidentally began against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, their next opponents in IPL 2022.

There is little more to draw from history for Mumbai besides momentary succour after that Pat Cummins blitz. On the field, they’ll have to contend with an RCB side energised by two successive wins and the return of their own star Australian import. Glenn Maxwell was the central disruptor in the tactical cat and mouse between these two sides last season and could prove to be more than a handful for a misfiring bowling attack.

Meanwhile, life for the Royal Challengers in their post-AB era has begun about as well as they would have hoped. In Dinesh Karthik, they have an ice-cold finisher with bags of experience and a point to prove. His performances as well as those of Harshal Patel and Wanindu Hasaranga have largely offset the small kinks in their chain – notably in the roles played by Anuj Rawat and Mohammed Siraj – giving them a good base to build their season on.

When: RCB vs MI, April 9, 19:30 IST

Where: Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Pune

What to expect: Among the four IPL 2022 venues, Pune has produced wildly different games. After Rajasthan Royals plundered 210 in their opener, the next two games here have seen scores of 171 and 161. The former was defended by Gujarat Titans while the latter remained competitive until Cummins showed up. Expect teams to still chase and not only because of the dew. There is a tendency for the pitch to hold up in the first 20 overs.

IPL Head to Head: RCB 12-17 MI. Mumbai have generally held sway over their next opponents but are coming into this game with three losses in the last four encounters against RCB.

Team Watch:

Royal Challengers Bangalore

Unavailable: Josh Hazlewood

Tactics & Matchups:

RCB’s decision to open with Anuj Rawat makes tactical sense in that it creates a left-right pair and has the added effect of strengthening the middle-order with Virat Kohli’s presence. In three games thus far the 22-year-old has stitched two half-century partnerships with Faf du Plessis but his own scores read 21 (20), 0 (2) and 26 (25). In terms of maximising the 20 overs, RCB will need more enterprise from a batter playing a majority of deliveries in the PowerPlay, more so when it comes at the cost of Kohli having to start his innings in his least-productive phase of a T20.

Probable XI: Faf du Plessis (c), Anuj Rawat, Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell, Dinesh Karthik (wk), David Willey, Shahbaz Ahmed, Wanindu Hasaranga, Harshal Patel, Akash Deep, Mohammed Siraj

Mumbai Indians

Tactics & Matchups:

Rohit Sharma has enjoyed using a left-arm spinner and legspinner in tandem against RCB to choke Kohli and RCB through the middle overs and then follow that up with an over of Jasprit Bumrah against whom the desperate opposition is ill-placed to take a risk against. The time may be ripe for the inclusion of Fabian Allen to perform the Krunal Pandya role. Mumbai Indians may also consider swapping out Basil Thampi for more experience in the form of Jaydev Unadkat, who had his breakthrough season in 2017 playing on the two-paced Pune pitches.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Ishan Kishan (wk), Dewald Brevis, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Kieron Pollard, Fabian Allen/Daniel Sams, Murugan Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Tymal Mills, Jaydev Unadkat/Basil Thampi

Did you know?

– Bumrah has an excellent record against Kohli & Maxwell and has dismissed them four and five times respectively in the IPL

– Dinesh Karthik has not been dismissed in three games so far and boasts a strike-rate of 204.54

– Since 2019, Rohit Sharma’s average of 27.90 is the third lowest and SR of 126.98 is the fourth lowest among openers who have played at least 20 innings in this period.

What they said:

“To pull games out of nowhere, you need some great characters and DK is as great a character as you can get. His composure under pressure is amazing. He is really calm and such a great asset to us.” – Faf du Plessis

“I think slight desperation is required from each one of us. That desperation is very, very, very important when we play, especially in this tournament. Because oppositions are different, they come up with different plans all the time. We just need to stay ahead of them. We just need to stay on top of them. And the only way we can do that is by having that slight hunger and that desperation on the field – with the bat, with the ball” – Rohit Sharma

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