Mumbai: Following a thrilling win over Sunrisers Hyderabad at home, a confident Mumbai Indians will aim to hold on to the winning touch when they face Rajasthan Royals in a key Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter at the Wankhede Stadium here on Friday.
Defending a modest total of 157, Mumbai bowlers bowled their hearts out to pick up wickets at regular intervals to restrict Sunrisers to 137/8 in 20 overs here on April 25. The 20-run victory was a sure boost for the side after losing matches at the start of the season.
Lasith Malinga, who was looking to strike form, was the pick of the Mumbai bowlers on Saturday night, finishing with impressive figures of 4-1-23-4. He took three wickets without conceding a single run in his final over.
The Sri Lankan was well supported by Kiwi pacer Mitchell McClenaghan (4-0-20-3). Spinner Jagadeesha Suchith too was economical.
However, their batting has been a problem, failing to click right from the start of the season. Exits of opener Aaron Finch and all-rounder Corey Anderson from the league due to injuries make life even tougher for the 2013 champions.
Lendl Simmons, who replaced Finch as opener, has come out good in a couple of games but he is yet to make an impact after a fruitful last season.
Skipper Rohit Sharma, who has dropped himself down the batting order from one to four, is yet to strike form. He earlier said he had no other option but to drop himself down the order to keep the team combination right.
With just two wins from seven matches, Rohit too will be eager to get runs under his belt to steer his side to victory against the Royals on Friday.
Parthiv Patel, Unmukt Chand and Ambati Rayudu, who are yet to trouble the bowlers, will have their task cut out when they take the field on Friday.
On the other hand, the Royals will think themselves to be unlucky after rain washed out their two back-to-back matches, if they lose to Mumbai. First match was against the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in Kolkata on April 26, and the next against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in Bangalore on Wednesday.
The inaugural IPL champions had a splendid start to the tournament with five consecutive victories. But a Super Over defeat to Kings XI Punjab followed by a loss to RCB halted their unbeaten run. They are currently in second position on the table with 12 points from nine matches.
With a balanced side, the Shane Watson-led side will aim to make the match count. However, Watson along with fellow opener Ajinkya Rahane, the highest run-getter (323) so far this season, Steve Smith and all-rounder James Faulkner form a strong line-up with 43-year-old spinner Pravin Tambe always a surprise package.
With both sides having strengths in both batting and bowling, a cracker of a match awaits here on Friday night. Head-to-head, Mumbai Indians have won eight while Royals have clinched six out of their 15 encounters. One was a no result.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, Colin Munro, Aditya Tare, Jasprit Bumrah, Marchant de Lange, Pawan Suyal, Shreyas Gopal, Lendl Simmons, Pragyan Ojha, Mitchell McClenaghan, Abhimanyu Mithun, Aiden Blizzard, Akshay Wakhare, Nitish Rana, Siddhesh Lad, Hardik Pandya, Jagadeesha Suchith, Unmukt Chand, Vinay Kumar, Parthiv Patel, Ben Hilfenhaus.
Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson (captain), Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Steven Smith, Rajat Bhatia, Tim Southee, Dhawal Kulkarni, Abhishek Nayar, Ben Cutting, Karun Nair, Deepak Hooda, Dishant Yagnik, Vikramjeet Malik, Ankit Sharma, Rahul Tewatia, Pravin Tambe, Chris Morris, Dinesh Salunkhe, Rusty Theron, Pardeep Sahu, Brainder Sran, Sagar Trivedi.