There is plenty at stake in the Wankhede Stadium as the team from the City of Dreams gets set to host the Royal Challengers Bangalore in the first match of the doubleheader on Monday.
It has been a contrasting journey for the two heavyweights of the Indian Premier League in the tenth edition of the tournament. While the Challengers are out of contention for a playoff spot, the Mumbai Indians are inching closer towards making it into the final four.
The Mumbai Indians are returning to their fortress after a nerve-wracking victory over the Gujarat Lions and will be looking to build on the winning momentum in this crucial encounter. The Virat Kohli-led Bangalore team, on the other hand, have never really got going in the tournament and endured yet another embarrassing loss to the Rising Pune Supergiant last time around.
The team will be itching to prove their worth in the tournament and salvage some pride from the remainder of their league matches. It promises to be an exciting battle at the Wankhede Stadium as both the teams will be gunning for victory in this much-awaited contest.
Take a look at five key areas for both teams.
#1 With the bat
The Mumbai Indians have been in sublime form with the bat throughout the tenth edition of the tournament and will be looking to continue the good work against the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Despite a middle order glitch in their last encounter against the Lions, the home team will be riding high on confidence mainly due to the stability and firepower in the batting line up. The Mumbai Indians are not reliant on one particular player to perform as different people have stood up and taken the responsibility of taking the team to victory.
Nitish Rana at number three has been a revelation for the home side as the left-hander has amassed 285 runs in the nine league matches so far and is currently one of the most exciting players in the domestic circuit.
The batting unit looks formidable for the home team with Kieron Pollard and the Pandya brothers ensuring plenty of fireworks at the back end of the innings.
The star-studded batting line-up of the Royal Challengers Bangalore has failed to live up to expectations in the tournament and they would be looking at this game as an opportunity to redeem themselves with the bat.
The onus will be on skipper Virat Kohli to lead from the front. They would also be banking on their experienced opener Chris Gayle to find some form and provide the team with an explosive start at the top of the order. The charismatic West Indian has been struggling for runs in the tournament and the fans of the Bangalore outfit would be hoping for a Gayle Storm at the Wankhede.
#2 With the ball
The bowling unit for the Mumbai Indians was boosted by the inclusion of Lasith Malinga in their previous encounter. The veteran pacer picked up two crucial wickets against the Lions early in the innings to dent the scoring rate and the Mumbai Indians would be looking at his expertise to breakthrough the star-studded batting line-up of the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
Another player who will be riding high on confidence after the nail-biting finish against the Lions is Jasprit Bumrah. The youngster is known for his toe-crushing yorkers and proved to be a match winner for the home team in the Super Over. The duo will shoulder most of the responsibility for Mumbai.
Royal Challengers, meanwhile, will look to Yuzuvendra Chahal to provide the team with crucial breakthroughs in the middle overs. The leg-spinner has been one of the most reliable performers for Virat Kohli with the ball and he could be the trump card for the Bangalore team in this all-important clash.
Samuel Badree set the stage alight with his hat-trick against the Mumbai Indians at Bangalore earlier in the tournament and the management would be hoping for similar heroics from their foreign recruit. The West Indian has been brilliant with the ball in the powerplay in the past and has picked up crucial wickets in the initial stage of the innings to give his team an early advantage.
The Mumbai Indians have utilised the field restrictions to the fullest as the opening combination of Jos Buttler and Parthiv Patel have gone hard at the opposition bowlers. The duo have been instrumental in getting the team off to a flying start in the powerplay and will be expected to continue batting in a similar fashion.
The explosive batting line-up of the home team would be looking to exploit the inexperienced bowling unit of the Royal Challengers and post a huge total on the board.
Lack of intent and fear of being dismissed have been the main reasons for the downfall of the Royal Challenger Bangalore this season and they would be looking forward to playing some positive cricket in the upcoming match. The Bangalore-based franchise have been knocked out of the competition and hence will only be playing for pride.
If Gayle returns to the line-up he should look to go hard right from the outset unlike in the previous games where took his time only to be dismissed thereafter, leaving his side in a spot of bother. If he can get through Malinga and McCleneghan’s initial bursts, he can make hay when the spinners come on.
#4 Pitch and Conditions
The 22 yards at the Wankhede Stadium are pretty hard and offer plenty of bounce and carry for the fast bowlers. The wicket has always been a batting paradise and this could prove to be a blessing in disguise for the struggling batting unit of the visitors.
The batsmen from Bangalore like the ball coming onto the bat and it will be an ideal wicket for them to put up some much-needed runs on the board. The spin duo of Chahal and Badree will be encouraged to toss the ball up in order to extract some turn on offer.
#5 Match winners
The skipper of the Mumbai Indians, Rohit Sharma has not really set the tenth edition of the tournament on fire with his breath-taking batting and will be itching to find some form going into the business end of the tournament. Coming back after a long injury layoff, Rohit has struggled with his consistency in the middle order and has failed to score substantial runs in the competition.
The 30-year-old, however, has been a proven match winner not only for the Mumbai Indians but also for the Indian team in the past and his contributions with the bat will be crucial for the team’s fortunes as they enter the knockout stages.
The superman of world cricket, AB de Villiers has not been able to produce his heroics in this year’s tournament. The South African batsman is one of the mainstays in the batting unit for the Challengers and his failure with the bat is one of the main reasons for their dismal performances.
Although the flamboyant batsman missed the initial stage of the tournament due to injury, he created a huge impact in his comeback game as he scored an unbeaten 89 against the Kings XI Punjab. The 33-year-old has failed to get going since then and will be looking to make amends in the remainder of the matches.
If de Villiers does indeed get going, RCB will definitely get over the line.