Misfiring Mumbai Indians, struggling to get their team combination right, will take on the formidable batting might of Royal Challengers Bangalore in a potentially explosive IPL clash at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.
RCB, on the other hand, have a tricky bowling combination to set right in the absence of injured Australian pace spearhead Mitchell Starc -- ruled out of the season -- and miserly leggie Samuel Badree, who is yet to make an appearance in the T20 league after picking up an injury during West Indies’ triumphant run in the World T20.
The Bangalore side will, however, miss the services of big-hitting West Indian Chris Gayle, who has returned home to Jamaica to see his new-born son.
MI and RCB have fought tooth and nail since 2008 with their head-to-head thus far at 9-8 in favour of Mumbai, who have lost three times in four games this season, including in the last two, in their bid to retain the crown they won after a similar poor start in 2015.
Last season, each team outsmarted the other once, in their respective away games.
RCB come into the needle clash after being flattened by South African wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock’s masterly hundred, the first ton by any batsman this season, and they will need to quickly correct their bowling combination.
Two-time title winners, MI have slumped to defeats in both their home matches this season -- to IPL debutants Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions -- and they will be keen to score their first win on their traditional home ground in one of the two remaining games scheduled at the Wankhede Stadium before they move to Jaipur, which will become their new home for the rest of the season.
Mumbai’s top-order batting has been miserable so far barring the clash against Kolkata Knight Riders, another two-time champion outfit, when captain Rohit Sharma’s superbly compiled unbeaten 84 led them to victory.
But in the other three games, the leading batsmen have failed to click as a unit. Even a reworked batting order against Sunrisers Hyderabad, which saw Parthiv Patel opening with newcomer Martin Guptill, replacement for their consistent but injured opener Lendl Simmons, did not produce the desired result.
Meanwhile, out-of-form West Indian Kieron Pollard will be available for selection for Wednesday’s match as he has recovered from a bout of food poisoning. He did not travel to Hyderabad for MI’s previous match due to this indisposition.
In the absence of ever-reliable Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga, Mumbai have depended upon the New Zealand duo of Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan to make early inroads and this combination is expected to continue against RCB.
After failing to contain SRH skipper David Warner at Hyderabad on Monday, Harbhajan Singh would be keen to get back into his best form at a ground where he often bowls well.