Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai
Preview : Match 1 - Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians
Tendulkar and co. attempt to breach RR’s Jaipur fortress
The inaugural fixture of the main draw of the Karbonn Smart CLT20 2013 will feature IPL 2013 winners Mumbai Indians and hosts Rajasthan Royals.
The Mumbai Indians are in pursuit of a third Twenty20 title following their CLT20 trophy in 2011 and IPL gold earlier this year. Meanwhile, the Rajasthan Royals have been starved of silverware since winning the IPL title in the inaugural season back in 2008.
The Mumbai Indians definitely start as favourites – not in the least because of being defending IPL champions, but because they have several match-winners in their ranks. Having said that, defeating Rajasthan Royals at home – a place they call their “fortress” – will not be that easy. The USP of the Rajasthan Royals has been their ability to get the best out of all their players; Shane Warne skippered an underrated team to the IPL title in 2008, and Rahul Dravid has done more the same with his team over the last couple of years.
Saturday, September 21, 2013, 8 pm IST
Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
A lot of the Rajasthan Royals’ success in recent times has to be attributed to the formula they have used in recent times. Skipper Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane have often laid a solid foundation – even if they have not scored runs at a very brisk pace – with either of them batting into the second half of the innings. This has given stroke-makers like Shane Watson and Brad Hodge a platform to launch. Though he did not start off the Ashes tour of England too well, Watson regained form with the bat in the latter half of the tour and most recently scored an incredible 143 in the final one-dayer against England. Brad Hodge is among the top two run-getters in the T20 format and his experience of finishing matches will be key to the Royals.
On the bowling front, James Faulkner – who was the Royals’ leading wicket-taker in the IPL 2013, together with Shaun Tait – will be expected to do bulk of the damage with the ball.
A lot of talk around the Mumbai Indians camp has centered on how this could possibly be Sachin Tendulkar’s last appearance in the T20 format. Coach John Wright told the media that the Little Master was batting well and was keen and fresh. Skipper Rohit Sharma too said his team would try and do something special for him.
Among the batsmen, the Mumbai Indians will need Tendulkar, Rohit, Dinesh Karthik and Kieron Pollard to consume most of the deliveries for the team. Pollard will be the key figure towards the end overs, given his ability to send the ball into the stands at will and do a lot of damage in little time. MI were dealt a huge blow when Lasith Malinga was declared unavailable for the tournament. But the team will be hoping that Mitchell Johnson can do the job the Sri Lankan did, and hope the spin twins of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha can strike regularly too.
The Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians have met on 12 occasions, with the latter having an edge with a 7-5 win-loss record.
The Mumbai Indians suffered a massive 87-run loss at the hands of the Rajasthan Royals when the two teams met at Jaipur in IPL 2013. However, the Mumbai franchise came back strongly and defeated the Royals in their next two meetings – first in the league fixture at home and then in the Playoff match at Kolkata.
The Rajasthan Royals have an incredible record while playing at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur; they have won 24 of the 33 matches they have played at the venue. In fact, they were unbeaten in the 2013 season of the Indian Premier League; they played eight matches in Jaipur and registered wins in each of them.
Rohit Sharma has the best record among players who have captained in at least 10 matches in the IPL; he has led the Mumbai Indians to 10 wins in 13 matches to give him a 76.9 percent success rate.
There is a stark contrast in Rahul Dravid’s record as captain of Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals. He led RCB to four wins in 14 matches, while he has led RR to 18 wins in 34 matches to give him a 52.9 percent success rate.
In 28 matches prior to 2013, James Faulkner had picked up 30 wickets. However, in 24 T20 matches in 2013, he has picked up 39 wickets.
The Mumbai Indians will be seen in action next on September 23 when they clash with the Otago Volts at Ahmedabad. The Rajasthan Royals, meanwhile, will enjoy a three-day break, before they host Highveld Lions on September 25.