Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians
Sunday October 25, 15:00
Live on Sky Sports Cricket
Royals’ race may be run
Rajasthan had a good chance to make a bid for a Top 4 finish on Thursday but fluffed their lines.
Having got to what was just about a par score, they then did all the hard work by dismissing dangermen David Warner and Jonny Bairstow only to then allow Manish Pandey and Vijay Shankar, neither of whom was exactly in form, to chase that total without either of them getting out.
Jofra Archer has been immense for them. No surprises that he was the man who took both those two early wickets that gave his side a chance, but Ben Stokes has been pretty disappointing.
You can see the reasoning behind him opening- you want your best and most aggressive batsmen to be at the crease for as long as possible- but it just hasn’t worked. He’s averaging 22 from five knocks, is yet to pass fifty and even his strike rate of 106 is pretty dismal. Hardly his fault; he hadn’t played any cricket for weeks before arriving late in the IPL but it may be time to abandon the experiment, let Buttler open again and have Stokes bat somewhere in the middle-order.
Not that any of that is likely to make a difference to the big picture. They’re second from bottom, have played a game more than a few other teams and have a poor net run rate so it would take a minor miracle for them to still make it.
Indians ticking all the boxes
We normally recognise Mumbai as a side who can chase anything with their famous middle-order but we don’t normally think of them as a side who can bowl teams out so cheaply.
Ok, it was ‘only’ Chennai but dismissing any side in any circumstances for 114 takes some skill with the ball. It could have even been for a lot less if there hadn’t been for some late big hitting from Sam Curran.
Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah were the architects of that impressive display, taking five wickets between them. If Mumbai carry on like this, it’s not going to be easy stopping them.
Skipper Rohit Sharma missed out with injury last time but it didn’t matter. Kieron Pollard did a good job as skipper and Ishan Kishan was promoted to opener and scored 68 off 37 so they seem to have some decent alternatives in store if a couple of injuries kick in.
This could be a bit of a case of men against boys. Mumbai have been the outstanding side this season, the Royals the weakest, bar Chennai.
The Royals’ best chance here may just be to bowl first and hope that one or more of their big guns with the bat like Stokes, Buttler or Sanju Samson, come off. They probably have more control with bat than ball, so to speak.
But a lot would need to go their way even beyond the toss, so if anything, the 8/111.75 on Mumbai isn’t a bad price.
But we can get a considerably better price than that if we also think Mumbai can hit the most sixes. 81 for the Royals plays 89 for Mumbai, so not only are the Indians ahead in that regard, but it’s worth noting that the Royals hit an obscene amount in their first two matches when they played at Sharjah and it was an absolute road.
It’s 13/8 on the Sportsbook that Mumbai can win and hit more maximums and it’s worth pushing the boat out a bit for the significantly better price.
Here’s an example of a calculated gamble. When Sharma missed out with a hamstring injury in their last game, Kishan opened the batting and top-scored.
It’s not that unlikely that given the nature of the injury, Sharma sits this one out as well. You don’t want to be risking such an important player when you don’t have to. Not only because Pollard did such a good job on Friday as skipper but also because they’re virtually guaranteed of a Top 2 finish anyway.
11/2 on a player of Kishan’s ability to make it two in a row is a heck of a price and the worst-case scenario is that he bats at his usual position of four, if Sharma is risked.
You don’t often get a price like that on such an aggressive player who may open and it’s too good to turn down.