Author: Mona Gupta, New Delhi
IPL 2010 Matches Preview: 20th March:
Saturday’s double header in the IPL-3 T20 comes from Ahmedabad and Mumbai. The Rajasthan Royals will face a big test against the Dada’s Knight Rider while the Royal Challengers take on Mumbai Indians.
How the Royals need a change in fortune. They narrowly lost their opening game of IPL 3 but things have gone from bad to worse on and off the field since then. First the news of key players Graeme Smith and Dimitri Mascarenhas being ruled out of the rest of the tournament through injury, a defeat at home to Delhi, and then a real hammering in Bangalore on Thursday. Bottom of the log, the Royals look to set for a struggle and their 92 all out against RCB on what has been a decent batting track was the lowest score of the tournament so far.
By contrast, the Knight Riders won their first two matches although they were comfortably beaten by Chennai in their most recent game. Wins over the Deccan Chargers and the Royal Challengers were achieved on merit and despite the loss to the Super Kings the Knight Riders look set to give things a real go this time around. Also in their favour, Chris Gayle could now be available for selection for KKR and his presence alone would give the team even more momentum to build on what has largely been a promising start. Brendon McCullum is still with the Black Caps and will not be available until the test series against Australia finishes.
I’m in the Knight Riders camp anyway but it’s worth keeping an eye on the team news as any appearance from Chris Gayle could tip the scales even further KKR’s way. Even now, they should still have enough to heap more pressure on the Royals and that’s the way I’ll be going.
Royal Challengers v Mumbai Indians:
Both the Mumbai Indians and the Royal Challengers have been full of runs and that sets up Saturday’s meeting in Mumbai as a potentially cracking game.
Mumbai have won two from two and have posted targets in excess of 200 on each occasions. Having narrowly held on against the Royals, they then crushed pre tournament favourites Delhi Daredevils by 98 runs (in Delhi) to announce their credentials as serious contenders for IPL 3. The return of Harbhajan Singh along with West Indians Pollard and Bravo has strengthened all departments and with bat, Saurabh Tiwary looks a really dangerous customer alongside Tendulkar. At this early stage, Malinga, Zaheer Khan, Bravo, Harbhajan and Pollard looks arguably the strongest attack in the tournament if they hold their form.
The Royal Challengers lost their opening game in Kolkata but have subsequently completed back to back home wins over the Kings XI and Rajasthan Royals. The stand out performer is Jacques Kallis who has yet to be dismissed and has amassed scores of 65, 89 and 44. The bowlers found form in a 10 wicket win against the Royals on Thursday although the resistance from the Rajasthan top order was pretty feeble.
These sides are pretty evenly matched in my opinion and this is a tough call. Just maybe home advantage and a slightly stronger bowling attack could swing it the way of Mumbai but they will need to find a way to dismiss Kallis.