West Indian duo Kieron Pollard and Alzarri Joseph will hog the limelight when Mumbai Indians lock horns with struggling Rajasthan Royals in the Indian Premier League on Saturday.
Skipper Rohit Sharma, who missed his side’s previous match against Kings XI Punjab due to injury, is expected to make a return.
A leg spasm had forced Rohit to miss an IPL game for the first time in 11 seasons. In his absence, stand-in skipper Kieron Pollard ensured Mumbai continued its good run as his whirlwind 83-run knock helped the three-time champions script a three-wicket win in a humdinger on Wednesday.
The winning runs were hit by 22-year-old Alzarri Joseph, who has been the new sensation this season. After a dream debut, where he returned with best IPL figures of 6/12 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Joseph (12*) played a crucial cameo against Kings XI Punjab to take the side home.
It would be interesting to see whether the Joseph and the big-hitting Pollard can carry their form into Saturday’s game.
Another West Indian who would be in focus is Jofra Archer, who had given Rajasthan Royals a chance to defend 151 against Chennai Super Kings on Thursday with a superb spell of fast bowling. Mumbai are currently placed at the third spot in the table with four wins from six matches while Rajasthan are languishing at the seventh position with a solitary win from six matches.
Rohit’s injury had given a scare to India ahead of the World Cup but Pollard has made it clear that the skipper missed the last game just as a precautionary measure. “Obviously, Rohit is the captain of the team and it was only a precautionary measure for the team. He should be back in the next game,” Pollard had said.
Rohit’s inclusion will not only put to rest any doubts about his fitness but also boost the Mumbai’s batting line-up, which also comprises of Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya and Suryakumar Yadav.
The hosts have death overs specialist Jasprit Bumrah along with Australian pacer Jason Behrendorff apart from Joseph, and on their day, can rip apart any good batting line up.
Rajasthan would be wary of Mumbai’s attack after they were reduced to a 53/3 by CSK. None of the batsmen could score a big knock with Ben Stokes emerging as the top-scorer with 28 runs.
Rajasthan’s batting line-up, including skipper Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Steve Smith and Jos Buttler will need to come up with a much better display against the Mumbai bowlers at the Wankhede Stadium.
Rajasthan Royals pacers Jaydev Unadkat and Dhawal Kulkarni along with Shreyas Gopal and leg-spinner Riyan Parag would have to deliver for their skipper if they have to stay alive and make it to the playoffs.
Stokes, who was hit for a six by New Zealand’s Mitchell Santner of the last ball of the previous match, has been under par. His performance will be the central to Rajasthan’s hopes.
Head-to-head: Played: 19, Mumbai won: 10, Rajasthan Royals won: 8
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jason Behrendorff, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Alzarri Joseph, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan (wk), Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav.
Rajasthan Royals: Steve Smith, Ben Stokes, Jofra Archer, Jos Buttler, Ashton Turner, Ish Sodhi, Oshane Thomas, Liam Livingstone, Ajinkya Rahane (c), Sanju Samson (wk), Shubham Ranjane, Stuart Binny, Shreyas Gopal, Sudhesan Midhun, Jaydev Unadkat, Prashant Chopra, Mahipal Lomror, Aryaman Birla, Riyan Parag, Dhawal Kulkarni, Krishnappa Gowtham, Varun Aaron, Shashank Singh, Manan Vohra, Rahul Tripathi.