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Can Rajasthan Royals maintain momentum against Mumbai?

April 13, 2015 15:06 IST

Rajasthan Royals captain Steven Smith celebrated a wicket with his players

Rajasthan Royals captain Steven Smith celebrates a wicket with teammates. Photograph: BCCI

Buoyed by their thrilling last-ball win against Delhi Daredevils, a confident Rajasthan Royals will take on a beleaguered Mumbai Indians in an Indian Premier League cricket encounter in Ahmedabad on Tuesday.

Having won their first two matches on the road, the Steven Smith-led side will play their first match in their "adopted home" venue of Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera.

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For Royals, the tournament couldn't have started on a better note with two contrasting victories in as many matches.

While the 26-run win against Kings XI Punjab in Pune was a walk in the park, the Royals were stretched to the limit by Daredevils in their second match where Tim Southee got them home with a splendid last-ball boundary on Sunday.

The IPL unearths new talent every year and Deepak Hooda has grabbed the attention this season.

The young Baroda all-rounder has surprised one and all with composure and big-hitting abilities.

His 25-ball-54 against Daredevils has made him the talk of the town and the youngster is expected to blossom as the tournament proceeds.

Mumbai Indians' Harbhajan Singh

Mumbai Indians batsman Harbhajan Singh plays a shot against Kings XI Punjab during their Indian Premier League T20 match in Mumbai on Sunday. Photograph: Shashank Parade/PTI

For Mumbai Indians, it's been the worst start possible as they were comfortably beaten by seven wickets in their opening encounter against defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders and on Sunday, Harbhajan Singh's individual brilliance could not stop them from an 18-run loss.

On paper, Royals will start as favourites but Mumbai can't be written off.

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Even in the last season, the Rohit Sharma-led side had lost five matches on the trot in the UAE leg before recovering remarkably to make it to the play-offs.

But batting has been a bit of a bother for Mumbai, who have icons like Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Ricky Ponting on board to help the players.

Barring Rohit Sharma in the first game and Harbhajan Singh in the second game, the MI top-order has not performed as per expectations.

Australian opener Aaron Finch and India's middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu have both looked out of sorts while Corey Anderson also has been a bit scratchy despite a half-century in the first match at the Eden Gardens.

Tim Southee and Christopher Morris of the Rajatshan Royals celebrate

Tim Southee and Christopher Morris of the Rajatshan Royals celebrate. Photograph: BCCI

But with the likes of Kieron Pollard, Finch, Rohit set to make amends for the last game, the task will be cut out for Rajasthan’s Chris Morris, Tim Southee and James Faulkner, who will have to use all their variations and change-ups on a batting-friendly Motera pitch which also provides some help for spinners.

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The batting line-up is also pretty solid despite the absence of regular captain Shane Watson, who was out with a toe injury. But with current combination which has Smith, Faulkner, Southee and Morris as the four overseas cricketers in the playing XI, doing well, it will be interesting to see whether the regular captain can find his place in the team.

Squads:

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Aaron Finch, Ambati Rayudu, Abhimanyu Mithun, Aditya Tare, Parthiv Patel, Keiron Pollard, Corey Anderson, Lasith Malinga, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Josh Hazlewood, Marchant de Lange, Pawan Suyal, Shreyas Gopal, Lendl Simmons, Pragyan Ojha, Mitchell McClenaghan, Aiden Blizzard, Akshay Wakhare, Nitish Rana, Sidhesh Lad, Hardik Pandya, Jagadeesha Suchitch, Unmukt Chand and R Vinay Kumar.

Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson, Abhishek Nayar, Ajinkya Rahane, Ankit Nagendra Sharma, Ben Cutting, Deepak Hooda, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dishant Yagnik, James Faulkner, Kane Richardson, Karun Nair, Pravin Tambe, Rahul Tewatia, Rajat Bhatia, Sanju Samson, Steven Smith, Stuart Binny, Tim Southee, Vikramjeet Malik, Chris Morris, Juan Theron, Barinder Singh Saran, Dinesh Salunkhe, Sagar Trivedi, Pradeep Sahu.

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