Gradually finding its feet in the Indian Premier League, Royal Challengers Bangalore will aim to spring another surprise when they take on in-form Mumbai Indians for the first time in the tournament’s second edition here on Sunday.
Back to back wins over Kolkata Knight Riders and Kings XI Punjab in the last two matches has not just lifted the Royal Challengers’ spirit but has also helped the team rise from the bottom to fifth in the points table.
The side’s regular skipper Kevin Pietersen, USD 1.55 million buy, has left for national duty after leading it to the win over Knight Riders but it didn’t seem to have affected the side much last night when it stunned fourth-placed Punjab.
Veteran Indian spinner Anil Kumble has been handed the team’s reins for the rest of the tournament and his stint has been off to a perfect start with last night’s stunning nine-run win.
Mumbai, on the other hand, is in good form as well. After the narrow defeat against Kings XI, the Sachin Tendulkar-led outfit bounced back to beat the struggling Knight Riders on Friday.
The team is currently third on the points table with three wins from six matches, one of which was washed out.
Mumbai’s explosive batting gives it a slight edge over Royal Challengers, which has won only low-scoring thrillers relying on Kumble and Praveen Kumar to do the trick with the ball.
The Bangalore team’s batting fragility has been exposed in all the matches it has played with much talked about New Zealand big-hitter Jesse Ryder being the biggest flop.
Ross Taylor has not done his reputation any good either and it has been left mostly to South African all-rounder Jacques Kallis to rebuild the innings after every top-order collapse.
In contrast, Mumbai’s batting has done the job in almost all the games it has played. Tendulkar has been in reasonably good form and Sanath Jayasuriya, except for the past couple of matches, has not done too bad either.
JP Duminy, who was subdued in the early part of the tournament, is now also among the runs after notching two half centuries in as many matches against Punjab and Kolkata.
The teams look evenly matched in the bowling department though. While Royal Challengers has Kumble and Praveen, Mumbai also has proven match-winners Harbhajan Singh and Zaheer Khan.
Overall, the contest seems tilted in Mumbai’s favour but underdog Royal Challengers may come up with another stunning result and continue its revival.