Dubai: It may not a match-up between Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in the second leg of the Mumbai Indians versus Royal Challengers Bangalore clash on Wednesday, but the stakes will nevertheless be high for both the well-placed teams in the 2020 edition of IPL. A win in Abu Dhabi will help one of them reach the magic figure of 16 points and make their qualification for the play-offs a certainty.
Rohit, the talismanic captain of Mumbai who has guided them to four titles, will certainly miss his third game in a row with a hamstring issue - which saw him dropped from all three formats for the tour of Australia. He, however, returned to the nets on Monday hours after not being named in the tour party - raising speculation about the nature and extent of his injury.
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In Rohit’s absence, the champions would persist with both Saurabh Tiwary and Ishan Kishan while the Blue Shirts try to shake off the stunning loss in their last game when Ben Stokes and Sanju Samson scripted a fascinating chase for Rajasthan Royals to chase down a target of 194.
Commenting on the defeat against Royals, Jasprit Bumrah, the attacking lynchpin of MI said in a virtual press conference: ‘‘In the game against Royals, the wicket got better in the second innings. Having said that, we will have to admit that Sanju (Samson) and Ben Stokes played smart cricket and played some great shots.
‘‘There is nothing to be worried about, we don’t have to change anything drastically,’’ he assured.
Quinton De Kock (374 runs) had a rare failure against Royals and he would be keen to take up the senior opener’s role again in Rohit’s absence. Kishan (298 runs) and Suryakumar Yadav (283 runs) are among the leading run-scores who can go on the offensive against any attack.
For RCB, who look equipped this season to exorcise ghosts of failure in the past, skipper Kohli (415 runs) would like to continue his splendid run in the tournament. Young Devdutt Padikkal (343 runs) and AB de Villiers (324 runs) have been two of the other pillars of their batting and need to be more consistent in support of their skipper.
De Villiers has, time and again, stamped his class on wickets here - where strokeplay has not been easy - apart from taking up the additional responsibility of keeping wickets to give more flexibility to the team. The likes of Chris Morris, Moeen Ali and Gurkeerat Mann, who form the lower-middle order, can also chip in with useful cameos.
The only injury worry for the Challengers is on the bowling front with pacer Navdeep Saini suffering a split webbing. There is no clarity on his participation for the game against Mumbai and in case he misses out, senior pro Chris Morris and Mohammad Siraj will need to shoulder greater responsibility along with Isuru Udana.
Catch the match
Mumbai Indians vs Royal Challengers Bangalore
Venue: Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Start: 6 pm UAE
Live telecast on Bein Sports