This IPL already the table has become tighten with 5 teams fighting for two spots in playoffs. Mid-table scrap heats up with crucial matches today, MI taking on RCB for revenge of last week’s defeat. The ease with which the Royal Challengers Bangalore won their last two encounters has brought them closer to playoffs but a tough challenge awaits them on Monday in Mumbai Indians who have lost just one away game in IPL 5 so far.
Mumbai are back with confidence after the comprehensive win over KKR on Saturday. Except for the loss against table-toppers Delhi Daredevils at Ferozeshah Kotla, Mumbai have won all their away matches this year with ease. Mumbai thrashed Chennai in the inaugural match at Chepauk by eight wickets, trounced Deccan Chargers in Visakhapatnam by five wickets, Kings XI Punjab by four wickets, and Pune Warriors India by one run and Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs. Other than the matches in Pune and Mohali, which were decided on the last ball, the rest were comfortable wins. The win against Knight Riders’ on Saturday has brought Mumbai Indians to third in the table with 16 points, one less than second-placed Kolkata. They would like to jump to number one spot on the table while the RCB would be eager to join the top-four as they are at number five and locked with Chennai Super Kings with 15 points.
Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore have played a big role in spicing up the race for the playoffs. A big win over Kolkata Knight Riders featured a significant landmark for Rohit Sharma and an excellent start to Herschelle Gibbs’ IPL season, giving Mumbai Indians reason to not tinker with their opening combination again. Rohit Sharma’s century against Knight Riders was the 22nd in the IPL and the eighth by an Indian in the tournament’s history. His 167-run stand with Herschelle Gibbs was the third-highest in the IPL. They are currently third in the points table and can go at least one spot up should they beat Royal Challengers, and reach a position of relative safety vis-à-vis the playoffs.
Royal Challengers have won three in a row, including a nine-wicket demolition of Mumbai Indians last week, and would be desperate to keep that run going. Chris Gayle has taken the batting plaudits for Royal Challengers but his opening partner Tillakaratne Dilshan has been building up good form as well. His half-century against Pune Warriors was his third in six innings; he’s also outshone Gayle on occasion. After facing Mumbai Indians, they take on toppers Delhi Daredevils – not the ideal team to be facing in the event of a must-win scenario or being at the mercy of net run-rates. Mumbai Indians are a formidable opponent themselves, and Royal Challengers, currently No.5, will do well to push them back to a position of insecurity.
An interesting battle is awaited when Sri Lankan tweaker Muttiah Muralitharan would look to get Tendulkar out cheaply. The tales of both captains in respective field of their expertise have been sour. Harbhajan Singh has claimed five wickets from 13 games and Kohli has scored 246 runs from 13 games. They, however, have been marshalling their resources thoughtfully and successfully.