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Mumbai look to extend advantage at the top with win against Rajasthan

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Mumbai will be eager to create some breathing space between them and Delhi at the top of the points table by beating Rajasthan at Abu Dhabi on Sunday. The defending champions are in a rich vein of form and will be favourites going into the clash against Rajasthan – a team they have already beaten once in convincing fashion this season.

Rajasthan, meanwhile, must start putting together a run of positive results soon if they want to make it to the playoffs. The Season 1 champions lost their last encounter against Hyderabad and need to turn things around quickly. They can start by making amends with a win over Mumbai, having lost their first encounter against the reigning champions this year.

Not much separates the two teams in the head-to-head, with Mumbai enjoying a slight edge, having won 11 of the encounters between the sides, while Rajasthan have emerged triumphant on 10 occasions. That said, Rajasthan can take heart from the fact that they’ve beaten Mumbai four times in their last five encounters. Here, we have a closer look at some key players and potential battles from the clash. 

Jasprit Bumrah versus Steve Smith, Sanju Samson and Jos Buttler

Sanju Samson, Jos Buttler and Steve Smith are the top three run-scorers for Rajasthan, and you can rest assured that a lot will depend on their performances if the inaugural season winners want to beat Mumbai. One look at Mumbai pace ace Jasprit Bumrah’s record against the aforementioned trio, though, should be enough to have the Rajasthan camp and their fans worried.

Skipper Smith, who began the season with successive fifties but has fallen away since will be hoping to rediscover his form. He’s failed to reach double figures in five of his 11 innings this season and the chances of him returning to form against Bumrah look highly unlikely. Smith boasts a record of 46 runs scored from 43 balls at a strike rate of 106.97 in six innings against the Indian speedster, who has gotten the better of the Australian thrice in the Indian T20 League.

Batsman

Innings

Runs Scored

Dismissed

Strike Rate

Steve Smith

6

46

3

106.97

Sanju Samson

8

32

2

91.42

Jos Buttler

4

31

1

134.78

*Jasprit Bumrah against Rajasthan’s batsmen

Similarly, the explosive Samson also struggles against Bumrah, having been dismissed two times in eight innings against him. Normally a free-flowing batsman who likes to consistently find the boundaries, Samson’s strike rate against Bumrah is just 91.42. Buttler fares marginally better against Bumrah, having been dismissed just once by him while going at a decent strike rate of 134.78.

Players to watch:

Mumbai – Ishan Kishan

Mumbai’s Ishan Kishan has quietly gone about his business this year, playing pivotal knocks for the side and currently finds himself second behind Quinton de Kock (368) in the reigning champions’ run-scoring chart with 261 runs under his belt. Apart from his best of 99 this season, he scored a devastating 37-ball 68 in Mumbai’s 10-wicket win over Chennai and showed his versatility by filling in the vacant opening spot in the absence of skipper Rohit Sharma. Kishan’s currently averaging 43.50 and has hit 19 sixes so far – more than any other Mumbai player – and will be knocking on the door of the national team soon if he continues to produce such knocks.

Rajasthan – Jofra Archer

English pace spearhead Jofra Archer has enjoyed a good season from a personal perspective, and with 15 scalps so far, has eight more wickets than the next best Rajasthan bowler. His prowess with the ball sees him boast a better economy (6.61), dot ball percentage (51.91) and wicket contribution percentage (30.61) than even the dangerous Bumrah. In fact, no player has bowled more dot balls than Archer’s 136 this season. Furthermore, his ability to get rid of top-order batsmen – something we’ve seen him do a lot in Indian T20 League 2020 – needs to come to the forefront against Mumbai’s talented batsmen, if Rajasthan want to cause an upset.

Stats to watch out for:

3: Ducks by Rohit Sharma against Rajasthan in the Indian T20 League, joint-most by a player against them.

22.07: Jofra Archer’s bowling average for Rajasthan in the Indian T20 League is the best by a bowler for them.

27: Runs required by Krunal Pandya to score 1000 runs for Mumbai in the Indian T20 League.

46.44: Steven Smith’s average against Mumbai in the Indian T20 League is the fourth-best by any player against them.

175: Jos Buttler’s strike rate against Mumbai in the Indian T20 League is the best by any player against them.

Writer’s pick:

While Rajasthan have had a fair bit of success against Mumbai in the recent past despite losing to the four-time champions earlier in the campaign, Smith’s boys getting maximum points on Sunday seems highly unlikely. With the added motivation of Delhi’s loss that enables the defending champions to extend the gap at the top of the standings also in the equation, it’s difficult to see how Rajasthan can overcome the Mumbai juggernaut.

Feature image courtesy: AFP / Punit Paranjpe

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