Jos bosses proceedings in Mumbai, keeps RR floating
With almost half the season done and dusted, RR find themselves in a position no alien to them from the last year. They were then rescued by Jos Butler who luckily was promoted up the order from the number 6 position in one particular game and turned the fortunes of the Royals around from out of nowhere to guide them to the playoffs, a feat that looked almost a goner with the way they stacked up on the tally halfway through the tally. Today too, they faced the same situation and found the same rescuer to get him and his team going to salvage plenty of positives from the game against MI. Breaching an otherwise portrayed Mumbai fortress is no easy task after all, ask the KXIP who succumbed to the Genius of Pollard the other night. Mumbai Indians were put into bat in a strange tactic knowing day games in Mumbai can be daunting on fielders. Mumbai got off to a flyer with the Captain and De Kock starting the onslaught to guide Mumbai to a solid start. But like has been their story for almost entirety of this season, they lost their way in the middle phase of the game where Shreyas Gopal applied brakes to a sailing innings. De Kock kept going at one end only to find struggling partners at the other end come and go in a procession-like approach. What will worry the Mumbai Indians camp though is a pattern that has been developing through the tournament. In the middle overs, their run-rate is only better than Chennai Super Kings (who have the excuse of a sluggish home pitch) and the bottom-placed Royal Challengers Bangalore. They’ve also lost the most wickets in this period and are losing them at a rate that is bettered by only RCB. Hardik Pandya who rescued the Indians against CSK tried his best to salvage the total that was projected with the start they had, but found Mumbai to be at least 15 runs short of a par score on the Wankhede. Ajinkya Rahane and Jos Butler threw caution to the wind and started in the “best for business” style for the RR camp. After Rahane departed with a well made 37 off 21, Butler and Samson took the game ahead and Butler in a Joseph over powered 28 runs to take the game away from Mumbai. But Rajasthan have their own problem set to address as far as closing the innings is concerned. Jasprit Bumrah and Rahul Chahar almost took toll of their inexperienced lower middle order and with No Ben stokes to rescue, the game was down in a territory that looked highly unlikely moments back. Trust RR to make games out of nowhere but Shreyas Gopal with a calm and composed head took RR past the finish line. Beating Mumbai in Mumbai would give the RR camp truck loads of confidence and he would hope it is the kick start to a series of events,just like last year. Both teams as they would found out had their own problems to deal with. Mumbai with a middle muddle are straight away left to think what to do to stabilise innings in the middle where Surya Kumar Yadav just doesn’t seem to fit. Possible solutions aren’t straightforward. Previously, they had the option of having a Rohit Sharma cushion in the middle-order but with the skipper, eyeing the World Cup and deciding to open all through, they’ve been forced to look at other options. So far, none of Yuvraj Singh, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan or Krunal Pandya have provided them with answers. Late blitzes from the likes of Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya have on occasions masked a malaise for Mumbai, which, if left unattended, could hamper their attempts at winning an unprecedented fourth title. Rajasthan Royal meanwhile have to pray that their Boss in Jos stays as brutal as today but they will also want their other internationals and Indian players who have really turned up thus far this summer like Gowtham, Tripathi and even Smith. Keeping in mind the option of Ashton Turner, RR may consider dropping Smith who thus far has been more a liability to the team. How they would approach the scene once their superstar leave the IPL midway is also a question they would dearly want to solve, but first things first, they may well want to click with whatever options they have available as of now. With RR getting 2 wins out of their 7 now, they sit just 2 away from the congested mid table to join the 6 teams in the race to the coveted 2,3,4 spots of the league that thus far has proven to be a humdinger with no shortage of entertainment.