Rajasthan, Mumbai face off as race for playoffs intensifies

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safari
04 Oct 2021 | 02:14 PM
authorHardik Worah

Rajasthan, Mumbai face off as race for playoffs intensifies

RR and MI will also have to better their NRR if they want to compete with KKR

Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore are already through to the playoffs of the Indian Premier League 2021, while Kolkata Knight Riders, Punjab Kings, Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians will have to fight for that one remaining spot. Punjab's qualification hopes are hanging by a thread, but Rajasthan and Mumbai are very much alive and will look to topple each other when they come face to face in an all-important encounter in Sharjah on Tuesday (October 5). Rajasthan (-0.337) and Mumbai (-0.453) will also have to better their NRR if they want to compete with Kolkata (+0.294). 

Mumbai's batting continues to falter

Things haven’t quite gone in Mumbai’s favour this season. On paper, the five-time champions have the strongest batting line-up but not a single Mumbai batter has scored more than 350 runs in this edition. The likes of Quinton de Kock, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya prefer playing on solid tracks but Mumbai have played six of their 12 games in Chennai and Sharjah where the surfaces have been slow. Skipper Rohit Sharma (341) has been far from his best but is still Mumbai’s leading run-scorer. Meanwhile, ever-dependable Suryakumar Yadav has been in horrible form in IPL 2021. And, all four of these Indian players are set to feature in the upcoming T20 World Cup in the UAE and Oman.

The defending champions have won only one of their last five games and are currently placed at No. 7. Mumbai batters have struggled big time as they have the worst batting average and balls per wicket and second-worst scoring rate. Amongst batters who have faced at least 10 deliveries in the second half of the tournament, not a single Mumbai player has a strike rate of more than 120. De Kock and Saurabh Tiwary have been their best batters in this time period but even they have hardly created any impact.  

Chahar's form is a big concern for Mumbai and India

It was his performance in the first leg of IPL 2021 that got Rahul Chahar a place in the T20 World Cup squad ahead of veteran legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal, but the tables have now turned in the UAE. There were already some question marks over Chahar’s selection ahead of Chahal, but the selectors arguably made the right call considering the latter’s poor run of form. Chahar was constantly delivering for Mumbai, while Chahal was not picking enough wickets and leaking runs at almost nine runs per over for India in T20Is. The Indian team management finally ran out of patience and decided to get Chahar into the set-up.  

The 22-year-old legspinner clearly had better numbers than Chahal but hasn’t been able to stamp his authority in the second half. Chahar has claimed only two wickets in four matches and has conceded runs at 7.7, while Chahal seems to have returned to his best. Mumbai dropped Chahar played offspinner Jayant Yadav against Delhi as they have four left-handers in their top-seven and they could take a similar route against Rajasthan. Five of RR’s top-seven batters are left-handers and Chahar might have to sit out once again. Chahar’s spot in the national side might not be under threat but the team management would want him to find some form in the remaining games, which will also work in Mumbai’s favour.   

Samson starting to get much-needed support

The Rajasthan batting unit finally turned up against Chennai and made a mockery of the 190-run chase in Abu Dhabi. Skipper Sanju Samson has been consistent throughout the season but hasn’t found much support from the other batters. However, Rajasthan now have two in-form openers - Evin Lewis and Yashasvi Jaiswal - who smoked 81 runs in the powerplay against Chennai. The latter completed his fifty off 19 deliveries - joint second-fastest for Rajasthan - before Shivam Dube smashed 64 not out off 42 deliveries to get his team over the line.

Samson scored 28 off 24 but he would be delighted with the fact that Rajasthan’s batting is finally starting to click as a unit. Jaiswal and Lewis are fearsome strikers, while the inclusion of Dube turned out to be a masterstroke. Debutant Glenn Phillips too got some runs, but things won’t be as smooth in Sharjah where most of the batters have struggled to get going. But at the same time, bowlers like Mustafizur Rahman, Rahul Tewatia and Mayank Markande would enjoy bowling on this surface. If needed, they could also bring in someone like Jaydev Unadkat.   

Probable XIs

Rajasthan: Evin Lewis, Yashasvi Jaiswal, Sanju Samson (c & wk), Shivam Dube, Glenn Phillips, David Miller, Rahul Tewatia, Kartik Tyagi/Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, Chetan Sakariya, Mustafizur Rahman.

Mumbai: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Saurabh Tiwary, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jayant Yadav/Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Trent Boult.

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Indian Premier League, 2021Mumbai IndiansRajasthan RoyalsRahul ChaharYashasvi JaiswalSanju SamsonRohit Sharma

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