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MI bowling in focus against high-flying RR


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The start of a new season followed an old script for both Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals. Slow-starters MI started off with a loss and Rajasthan Royals put on a strong all-round display to sit atop the points table.

More than the evident weakness in the middle order, which will receive a massive boost with the return of Suryakumar Yadav, the focus will be on the bowlers who failed to defend 177 against Delhi Capitals. Despite having reduced them to 104 for 6 at one stage, that DC managed to get over the line says a lot about the disappointing start MI had with the No. 5 and No.8 batters subjecting MI to a loss. The think tank will have some work to do, especially given that they're up against a top-heavy batting side that put on the highest total of 210 in the opening week.

Sanju Samson once again, like in the last 3 years, gave his side a solid start with another half-century in another opening game. Samson since 2017, in the first three games, has scored 798 runs in 16 innings at an average of 57, striking at a stunning 168.71. He has three hundreds and four fifties with as many as seven Players of the Match awards. But it's usually in the second game of the tournament that he strikes gold, in which four of those have come. Even against SRH, after the start RR were given by Yashasvi Jaiswal and Jos Buttler, it was Samson who upped the ante with a 27-ball 55 with the top five piling on the runs.

The key for MI will be to nip the scoring by scalping early wickets and with Jasprit Bumrah at the helm of the bowling attack, he can be the kryptonite against this batting line-up. That said, Bumrah went for 43 runs in 3.2 overs against Delhi Capitals.

When: MI vs RR, April 2, 15:30 IST

Where: Dr DY Patil Sports Academy, Mumbai

What to expect: In the two matches so far at the venue this year, teams chasing have found assistance and have gone on to win their respective contests. There should be no change in the trend of opting to chase.However, since it's a day game, dew won't be a factor in the captain's decision at the toss.

IPL Head to Head: MI 13 - 11 RR. Although MI lead the overall head-to-head, since 2018, RR have caught up and made ground with a 5-3 lead. Since 2018, RR's win percentage of 62.50 is the highest for any team against MI. However, at this particular venue, MI have won 5 of their 7 games in the past with RR having one win and a loss.

Team Watch:

Mumbai Indians

Tactics & Matchups: Suryakumar Yadav's return will be a boost for the middle order after having missed the opening game with a finger injury. Ishan Kishan too was cleared of any injury concern.

Jasprit Bumrah could be the wrecker-in-chief of RR's top-order if going merely by numbers. Jos Buttler averages 12.67 against the MI pacer with three dismissals, while Samson and Padikkal 24 and 4 respectively with 2 dismissals each.

Probable XI:Rohit Sharma (c), Ishan Kishan (wk), Tilak Varma, Suryakuma Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Tim David, Daniel Sams/Riley Meredith, Murugan Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Tymal Mills, Basil Thampi

Rajasthan Royals

Tactics & Matchups:It's unlikely RR will use Ashwin in the powerplay factoring in Rohit's record against the offspinner, with an average of 52.50. However, Chahal could be given a go if MI get off to a flier. Ishan Kishan averages just 15 against Chahal, but both of RR's star spinners - Ashwin and Chahal - will be crucial in the middle overs. Both have accounted for Kieron Pollard five teams each with the all-rounder averaging just 15 and 16 against them respectively.

Probable XI: Yashasvi Jaiswal, Jos Buttler, Devdutt Padikkal, Sanju Samson (c & wk), Shimron Hetmyer, Riyan Parag, Ravichandran Ashwin, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Yuzvendra Chahal, Trent Boult, Prasidh Krishna

Did you know?

Samson has started each of his last three IPL seasons with 50-plus scores at a strike rate of 200.

Since IPL 2017, Samson has won Player of the Match in his second match of a season on four occasions (2017, 2018, 2019 & 2020).

What they said:

"I am happy with the way the plans are working, the way everyone is looking at approaching this year. You will definitely see the change in the coming games. It was good learning for us. You have seen the CCI (Brabourne Stadium) wicket is not an easy wicket for bowlers. You have seen in yesterday's game also, 200 runs were chased. So, it was not an easy day for the bowlers, but in terms of planning and preparation, they are right on the money." - Zaheer Khan, MI's director of cricket.

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