Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians

Saturday 30 April, 15:00
TV: live on Sky Sports

Royals keep on winning

We’d been wondering what would happen when Jos Buttler eventually got out cheaply.

Well, what happened against RCB was that even though no-one else in the top order got many runs, Riyan Parag, very quiet so far this tournament, played a little gem of an innings to keep them in the game.

And if Parag was the man with the bat, Ravi Ashwin and Kuldeep Sen were the ones who bowled them to victory, sharing seven wickets between them and not going for many runs.

Ashwin, by the way, was promoted to number three and his quickfire 17 off nine was pretty useful in the context of the game so we’ll have to wait and see if they go with that strategy again.

Jos Buttler Rajasthan Royals.jpg

The Royals are looking pretty good as they close in on a Top 2 finish but seem unsure about their fourth overseas player.

None of Rassie van der Dussen, Daryl Mitchell (who made his debut in that game) or Obed McCoy have done enough to seal that spot. Mitchell will probably get another go here.

Royals’ Likely XI

Buttler, Padikkal, Ashwin, Samson, Hetmyer, Mitchell, Parag, Boult, Krishna, Sen, Chahal.

Why have Mumbai been so bad?

We could be here all day discussing how the five-time Champions Mumbai have found themselves in this position.

But in a nutshell: in the auction they took big gambles on English duo Tymal Mills and Jofra Archer that so far haven’t paid off, big money man Ishan Kishan has been out of form and none of the other players you’d expect to stand up has really done so.

Not skipper Rohit Sharma, not finisher Kieron Pollard, not English tyro Mills.

Experienced duo Sky Yadav and Jasprit Bumrah have admittedly been their usual consistent selves while youngsters Dewald Brevis and HR Shokeen have impressed with bat and ball respectively and are certainly two for the future.

As is Tilak Varma, the all-rounder, and their top runscorer so far this season.

But those are three of the very few positives to take away from the season because it really has been a disaster. Last time out they let KL Rahul get a century, his second in two matches against them.

That tells its own story.

Mumbai’s Likely XI

Sharma, Kishan, Brevis, Sky Yadav, Varma, Pollard, Sams, Unadkat, Shokeen, Bumrah, Meredith.

Pitch report

We’re at the DY Patil Stadium for this one.

Gujarat’s 156 proved too many for KKR last weekend and before that CSK chased 156 against Mumbai with MS Dhoni finding a boundary off the last ball of the game to win the match.

And before that, Punjab managed just 151, easily chased by SRH.

So, it’s the lowest-scoring of the grounds we’ve had so far and anything above 165 is going to be very competitive.

Kieron Pollard - 1280.jpg

Skippers winning the toss carry on being obsessed by the dew factor and generally want to chase but it’s not a bad toss to lose at this ground.

Royals a surprisingly big price

The Royals are 1.910/11 to win this match.

Now, let’s just forget for a second what Mumbai have done in the past by winning all those titles and just judge them on their 2022 performance.

No wins in eight, their batsmen have just six fifties between them, the fielding has been sloppy, most of the bowlers have been expensive and they have absolutely nothing to play for except pride.

Even the normally ultra-competitive Pollard looked thoroughly fed up last match as they botched yet another chase with Pollard himself struggling to find the middle of the bat.

And they’re up against a side who is six from eight and as we saw last time, is finding different ways to win games. They’re not perfect and sooner or later they’ll need better efforts from their middle-order but they’re a hell of a lot better than this Mumbai lot in just about every department.

Their motivation levels will also be much higher as they aim to stay towards the top of the table and that could make a big difference. A saved run here, a hard-run two instead of a single, that sort of thing.

There’s another element here. Despite Mumbai’s huge success and Rajasthan’s struggles over the years, the Royals have a surprisingly good record against the Indians, being ‘just’ 13-12 down.

Rohit Sharma Mumbai.jpg

So you’d think that if they can hold their own with far weaker sides than this one over the years, they should win this one when they’re so strong this time round and Mumbai aren’t.

I’d have priced the Royals up at about 1.75/7 so with no obvious toss bias, I think 1.910/11 is a really big price.

Varma the value

Tilak Varma really has been one of the few bright spots for Mumbai this campaign. He’s 15/2 to top score for them here.

He’s Mumbai’s top-scorer with 272 runs, has an extremely healthy average of 45, and an excellent strike rate of 140.

Interestingly, he top-scored for Mumbai with 61 when they played each other at the start of April, so that’s a good omen. He also top-scored for them with 51 not out against CSK and fell just one run short of doing so again against Lucknow last Sunday, getting out on 38 after Rohit Sharma had scored 39.

So that’s two wins from eight, one instance of falling one run short and a couple of other near-misses.

In a side where just about everyone else is struggling, that’s a very decent price.

Dan, the man

Bumrah is 2/1 favourite to be Mumbai top bowler. No surprises there. He’s just about the best fast bowler in the world in this format.

The thing with someone like Bumrah (or Rashid Khan or Mohammed Shami for that matter) is that eventually batsmen actually stop trying to be aggressive against them. Less aggression means less wickets. That helps explain why his economy rate is a really good 7.54 but he’s only taken five wickets in eight games.

Sydney Thunder bowler Daniel Sams.jpg

And at more than twice the price you can back a man whose stats for the season are actually better.

Sams has taken six wickets in just five matches and has often been bowling at the key times for taking wickets: at the start and at the death.

At 9/2 he’s worth chancing.

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