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Can Struggling Champs Stop Royal Rajasthan?

Can Struggling Champs Stop Royal Rajasthan?

AHMEDABAD:  Former champions Rajasthan Royals are a win away from cementing their spot in the play-offs. Defending champions Mumbai Indians are a defeat away from shutting shop for the season.

The contrast could not have been any starker as the two teams, one an epitome of teamwork and the other an example of incoherence, face off at the Sardar Patel Stadium here on Monday. Interestingly, the teams are meeting for the first time this season when some other match-ups have finished both legs!

With Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Royal Challengers Bangalore engaged in a mid-table battle to pick up a play-off spot, even as leaders King’s XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings having assured themselves of qualification, MI could well play spoilers for the third-placed RR.

Playing their third away game on the trot, MI — poor travellers by default — would take confidence from the win against Sunrisers two matches ago in Hyderabad, where their batsmen did far better than what fans have been treated to this IPL. West Indian opener Lendl Simmons and Ambati Rayudu scored breezy half-centuries to help the Mumbai to only their third win. But, in their previous game against KKR, things returned to a more familiar plane as the top order misfired, leaving skipper Rohit Sharma simply too much to do.

The hosts, conversely, are sitting pretty after a commanding display against Delhi Daredevils, though that cannot be seen as an achievement the way DD have played this season. Most of their strategies and ‘surprise’ experiments have paid rich dividends to put the Royals in a relatively safe position in the eight-team league.

Of the remaining four matches for Mumbai, they will be playing RR twice! By the time the return leg comes up in Mumbai on May 25, which will be the last game of the league phase, it might end up as an irrelevant contest. If Mumbai have to strike, it is now. But they will have to do it without their pace spearhead, Lasith Malinga, who has joined the Sri Lankan squad on their tour of England.

Source : http://www.newindianexpress.com/cricket/news/Can-Struggling-Champs-Stop-Royal-Rajasthan/2014/05/19/article2232665.ece

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