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Cricket news - Do-or-die game for the Royals in quicksilver IPL

Where should Ben Stokes bat? The question consuming the RR brains trust!

Where should Ben Stokes bat? The question consuming the RR brains trust!

Such has been the quicksilver movement in this ongoing season of the Indian Premier League that even wins in their three remaining games will not guarantee Rajasthan Royals a top-four finish. Elimination stares at them if they lose two. And if they win two of three, theoretically, they will still be in with a chance, but with little assurance.

Sunrisers Hyderabad comfortably overcame RR in their last clash despite losing both David Warner and Jonny Bairstow in the first three overs. It was Rajasthan's inability to get a par total in Dubai with runs drying up in the middle overs that really hurt them as the conditions gradually eased up for the batting side in the second innings.. The move of opening with Ben Stokes is not one that has yielded the desired results for RR yet. And a good start is almost imperative against table-toppers Mumbai Indians, who are coming off a ten-wicket trouncing of Chennai Super Kings. How Samson will tackle the left-arm pace of Boult will be a contest to watch out for.

If any team can boast of having almost all bases covered, it is the Mumbai Indians. They even have the luxury of "resting" players to "manage workload" with their substitutes doing the job just as well. For instance, Ishan Kishan stepped in seamlessly into the opening slot for Rohit Sharma, who missed out in the clash against CSK owing to a hamstring injury.

They haven't even needed Hardik Pandya to bowl, given how vast their bowling stocks are, with their powerplay bowlers in Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah delivering the early wickets more often than not. Boult in the powerplay overs this year has returned 10 wickets at 16.30, conceding at just 6.79 runs per over.

Rajasthan have had their own powerplay specialist in Jofra Archer, who has picked 7 wickets in 20 overs he's bowled in that phase, conceding just at 4.65. Overall, while he has picked 15 wickets with an economy rate of 6.62, it has been the lack of support from the other end that has cost them in stark contrast. The other seamers collectively have returned 16 wickets, with an ER of 10.29, with Stokes wicketless in his eight overs, but having conceded at 10.25.

While Mumbai already have one foot in the play-offs, it's pretty much do-or-die for Rajasthan here on. While the eventual result may not be in their hand, the least they can do is try and control the controllables.

When:Sunday, October 25, 2020 at 19:30 IST

Where:Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

What to expect: The average first-innings total in Abu Dhabi has been 147 in 10 innings, but Mumbai Indians' average score at the venue has been 185 in four. There's a bit of assistance for the pacers early on on a two-paced wicket, with spin getting almost no assistance in the day game played here between DC and KKR.

Team news:

Rajasthan Royals

Although their batting order needs a bit of tweaking, the Royals seem to have found their best XI. Although Tyagi went for a few runs against SRH, it's unlikely they will make a change to their line-up.

Probable XI: Ben Stokes, Robin Uthappa, Sanju Samson (wk), Steven Smith (c), Jos Buttler, Riyan Parag, Rahul Tewatia, Jofra Archer, Shreyas Gopal, Ankit Rajpoot, Kartik Tyagi

Mumbai Indians

Had Rohit Sharma not been carrying the hamstring niggle, they wouldn't have made a change in their XI even against Chennai Super Kings. If Rohit is fit to play, then Saurabh Tiwary will miss out. Else, they should be playing with the same team.

Probable XI: Quinton de Kock (wk), Rohit Sharma/Saurabh Tiwary, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard (c), Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah

Did you know?

- MI is the one of the two sides to lose fewer than 50 wickets while RR is the only side to lose 70-plus wickets.

- Despite poor returns overall with the bat for RR, 84 sixes by RR is second only to MI's 88 and the two sides have the highest 4s:6s ratio.

- 61% of Boult's overs this season have come in the Powerplay compared to 51.8% in the previous five editions.

- Archer has taken seven wickets in 20 overs in Powerplay this season at an ER of 4.65.

What they said:

"It's hard for us to really identify one area where we went wrong. Clearly, we haven't been at our best consistently and ultimately that's what it's about in these tournaments. It's such an even tournament and the challenge is to bring your best out in every game and unfortunately, through the course of the tournament, we haven't done that and have allowed teams to come back in games we probably should've won. Our destiny is probably in other teams' hands now and as for us we need to keep believing, our challenge is seven wins and we'll try to give our best to achieve that." - Andrew McDonald, Rajasthan Royals' head coach.