Two of Indian cricket’s biggest icons will be seen in opposite dugouts when Sachin Tendulkar’s Mumbai Indians take on Anil Kumble’s Royal Challengers Bangalore in the Indian Premier League here on Saturday.
While the home side moves into the game after beating the Delhi Daredevils in their backyard on March 17 by a handsome margin of 98 runs, the Bangalore team is also riding high following their 10-wicket thrashing of Rajasthan Royals at home on Thursday night.
Both have four points in their kitty, though Bangalore has played a game more than Mumbai. The two outfits would be eager to produce another top-drawer performance to further strengthen their standings before the race for the semi-finals heats up.
Mumbai have come up with two splendid batting displays in their two matches, the first one at home against the struggling Rajasthan Royals and the second at the Ferozshah Kotla against the Daredevils.
On both occasions, Mumbai crossed the 200-run mark which has become sort of a benchmark in this event though at no time can it be said with certainty it’s a winning score.
Mumbai came close to losing their opening contest against Royals despite scoring 212 for six when Yusuf Pathan threatened to pilot the Rajasthan outfit single-handedly across the finish line with his audacious 37-ball hundred.
After having won that game narrowly by four runs, Mumbai put up a much better all-round display in Delhi to vanquish the hosts by running up an imposing score of 218 for six and then bundling out the rivals for a meagre 120 in only 16.3 overs.
What was lacking against the Royals was an effective bowling display and this came about against Delhi and Mumbai look stronger now in both batting and bowling following the arrival of the talented West Indian duo of Dwayne Bravo and Kieron Pollard.
With Tendulkar in fine form, indicated by his superb knock of 63 off just 32 balls against Delhi, the Bangalore bowlers have their task cut out at the top of the order.
Saurabh Tiwary has struck the ball powerfully batting at two-down while Ambati Rayudu has also shown his capabilities as a superb timer of the ball.
There may be some concerns about the batting of Sri Lankan ace Sanath Jayasuriya, but with Bravo and Pollard to follow in the middle, Mumbai’s depth is impressive.
After the mauling they received from Pathan, the bowlers did wonderfully well against Delhi and would need to be on their toes against the strong Bangalore batting order in which Jacques Kallis at the top has looked in irresistible form by remaining unconquered with successive scores of 89, 65 and 44.
While Kallis has been the fulcrum, others have also chipped in with the talented Karnataka youngsters Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa living up to their promise.
The bowling, which struggled during the loss in their opener against the Knight Riders in Kolkata on March 14, has picked up superbly and looked particularly impressive in its planning and execution against the Royals.
Hat-trick man Praveen Kumar and the fiery Dayle Steyn led the pace attack with aplomb with the strongly built Kallis providing the ideal option just past the Power Play. And with skipper Kumble present to fox the batsmen in the middle overs, the Royal Challengers have enough meat and variety in the bowling kitty to trouble any team.
The wicket at the Brabourne also promises a run-feast and all the pointers are there for a battle royal in front of a capacity crowd.
Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar (capt.), Murtaza Ali, Dwayne Bravo, Shikhar Dhawan, Jean-Paul Duminy, Dilhara Fernando, Harbhajan Singh, Sanath Jayasuriya, Zaheer Khan, Dhawal Kulkarni, Ryan McLaren, Chandan Madan, Ishan Malhotra, Lasith Malinga, Graham Napier, Abhishek Nayar, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Rajagopal Sathish, Syed Shahabuddin, Rahul Shukla, Aditya Tare, Saurabh Tiwary.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: Anil Kumble (capt), Balachandra Akhil, K.P. Appanna, Mark Boucher, Rahul Dravid, Dillon du Preez, Shreevats Goswami, Jacques Kallis, Virat Kohli, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Praveen Kumar, Abhimanyu Mithun, Eoin Morgan, Manish Pandey, Sridharan Sriram, Dale Steyn, Robin Uthappa, Roelof van der Merwe, Vinay Kumar, C.M. Gautam, Udit Patel.