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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Mumbai Indians look to seal IPL 2017 playoff spot v Royal Challengers Bangalore

After clinching a super over thriller vs Gujarat Lions, Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai Indians will look to seal an IPL 2017 playoff spot when they take on Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday.

ipl-2017 Updated: May 11, 2017 20:12 IST
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Sanjjeev K Samyal
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
Rohit Sharma, who averages just 16.71 in IPL 2017 so far, will look to strike form when Mumbai Indians take on Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday.
Rohit Sharma, who averages just 16.71 in IPL 2017 so far, will look to strike form when Mumbai Indians take on Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday. (PTI)

The contrast in their campaigns is a lesson for Royal Challengers Bangalore as they face former champions Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium in their IPL 2017 match on Monday.

Heavily reliant on their top three batsmen, the Virat Kohli-led RCB are in disarray with five points after 10 games. Even if they win their remaining four games, they can only reach a maximum of 13 points. And no team in IPL history has qualified for the playoffs with fewer than 14 points. It has again exposed the risks of depending on individuals.

(Read | Jasprit Bumrah hands Mumbai Indians super over win vs Gujarat Lions in IPL 2017)

MI’s match-winners

On the other hand, in almost every game, Mumbai Indians have found a new hero to take them through in this Indian Premier League season. Without playing flamboyant cricket, like Kolkata Knight Riders, they have worked well as a unit for their scess so far.

Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya, Parthiv Patel and Mitchell McClenaghan have played key roles in various games to help MI make it seven wins in nine games. Little-known Nitish Rana has emerged as the X-factor, becoming the glue which binds the batting.

Rohit yet to click

Skipper Rohit Sharma has yet to fire on all cylinders, but has led astutely. He has not depended on seasoned names. Against Gujarat Lions, young Jasprit Bumrah was given the Super Over over record wicket-takers Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh.

(Read | Jasprit Bumrah: Mumbai Indians’ undisputed No 1 finisher in IPL 2017)

The other hero in Sunday’s game at Rajkot was Parthiv Patel. The keeper-batsman is perhaps the most underrated IPL player.

As Gujarat Lions bowlers will vouch for after his 44-ball 70, he is deceptively dangerous. While all focus is on the international stars, he has hurt the opposition with regular contribution to set the tone at the top of the order.

RCB’s Batting Woes

For RCB, batting has been their biggest shortcoming even though their bowling has improved compared to IPL 2016.

(Read | Royal Challengers Bangalore players a ‘fearful’ lot now, says Virat Kohli)

Their floundering campaign also shows how much they are dependent on the big three – Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Chris Gayle. With Kohli unavailable at the start, and the other two failing, the lack of depth in the batting line-up has been exposed.

Though it will take time to get back to his best after the shoulder injury, Kohli has looked good every time he has batted. But with no support at the other end, he has not been able to take the fight to the opposition.

MI eye top two

With their dramatic win in the Super Over on Sunday, Mumbai Indians have one foot in the playoffs. A win against Royal Challengers Bangalore should seal their spot.

Sharing the lead in the standings with Kolkata Knights Riders at 14 points, it is a race for them now to finish in the top two.

A top-two finish will give them two chances to reach the final because they will first contest the qualifier 1 among the toppers. And even if they lose, there will be ‘qualifier two’ to be played against the winner of the eliminator between the third and fourth-placed teams.

Mumbai Indians will start as favourites on Monday, but will have to take into account the fact that Royal Challengers Bangalore have nothing to lose.

First Published: Apr 30, 2017 20:01 IST