The Friday Blockbuster: With eye on play-offs, MI face SRH, RCB play DC

Mumbai Indias are currently at the fifth spot, with 12 points from 13 games, with a net run rate of -0.048.

Five-time champions Mumbai Indians will need to outclass bottom-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad in the last league match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) on Friday, knowing fully well the tricky situation they have found themselves in their bid for a play-offs spot.

Courtesy their eight-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals, the defending champions are currently at the fifth spot, with 12 points from 13 games, with a net run rate of -0.048.

But, Kolkata Knight Riders, with a net run rate of +0.294, are sitting on the fourth spot with 12 points from 13 games and will play Rajasthan Royals on Thursday evening in Sharjah.

A win for KKR against RR will take them to 14 points and also improve their net run rate further. In that scenario, MI may find it very difficult to qualify for the play-offs even if they beat SRH as the gap in their NRR with KKR is not small.

Asked if it is an advantage to play a team like SRH on the last day, MI captain Rohit Sharma had said, “All eight teams are capable of beating each other. But the good thing is that KKR plays before us, so we will know what to do.�

In case KKR lose, then a win will be enough for MI to seal the fourth play-offs spot as they then will have 14 points.

In any case, Rohit (363 runs) will have to lead from the front again. He has got starts but has not been able to convert them, and the great white-ball exponent would be itching for a big score.

And so would be his opening partner Ishan Kishan (157 runs), whose confidence would have been boosted from his unbeaten fifty against RR.

The Sunrisers, who are already out of reckoning for a play-offs berth, will look to finish the tournament on a high.

Skipper Kane Williamson was back among the runs and would be keen to start from where he left on Wednesday.

But the Kiwi will need support from others like Jason Roy and relatively inexperienced guys like Abhishek Sharma, Priyam Garg, Abdul Samad and aggressive Wriddhiman Saha.

With the addition of pace sensation Urman Malik, SRH have one of the best bowling attacks and the likes of Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Rashid Khan and Siddharth Kaul would have to be at their best to contain MI’s explosive batting line up.

Also, the contribution of West Indian all-rounder Jason Holder, both with the bat and ball, could be decisive.

RCB eye win against formidable DC before heading into play-offs

Assured of a play-off berth, Royal Challengers Bangalore will look to quickly recover from their loss in the previous game and finish the league phase on a high when they take on table-toppers Delhi Capitals in their final IPL round-robin game.

While the Delhi side (20 points from 13 matches) has made sure of a top-two finish, a defeat at the hands of Sunrisers Hyderabad on Wednesday night has dented RCB’s chances of ending second in the points table.

With 16 points and an inferior net run-rate to second-placed Chennai Super Kings, RCB’s hopes of a top-two finish has reduced after losing to SRH.

Skipper Virat Kohli, however, will keep an eye on the result of the CSK-Punjab Kings match on Thursday to get a clear idea about how to go about in their final match to snatch the second spot, which appears a tough task to say the least.

Despite possessing a formidable batting line-up that includes AB de Villiers, Glenn Maxwell and Devdutt Padikkal apart from Kohli, RCB couldn’t chase down a below-par 141-7 against SRH and they would need to sort out their batting before entering the knockout stage.

Maxwell has been in scintillating form for RCB after a moderate run in 2020 and can turn things around single-handedly as can de Villiers.

The Australian power-hitter has 447 runs with five 50s and will want to continue the good run, while de Villiers hasn’t quite had the impact he would have liked to.

If Kohli can get off to a strong start at the top alongside the impressive Padikkal, the powerful middle-order can do a lot of damage.

RCB’s bowling unit too have done well with the likes of Mohammed Siraj, Harshal Patel and George Garton doing the job in the pace department.

In spin department, Yuzvendra Chahal has overcome his past struggles with some very impressive spells this season, while Shahbaz Ahmed too has kept things in check for his team.

The Rishabh Pant-led Delhi team, on the other hand, has been in formidable form, winning four of the last five matches and will look to end things on a high in the league phase before going into the qualifier.

Skipper Pant has come in for criticism for being over-aggressive and it has to be seen if he shows a sense of restraint and makes bigger contributions.

DC has a strong batting line-up despite the inconsistency of Prithvi Shaw, who most often seems to blow hot and cold while Shikhar Dhawan (501 runs from 13 innings) has shown his value at the top.

Shreyas Iyer and Pant too have rescued the team few times but they will seek more consistency.
Delhi has a potent bowling attack.

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