A win away from making the semifinal grade, Mumbai Indians will have to shrug off disappointment of losing to laggards Kings XI Punjab when they take on the in-form Rajasthan Royals in an Indian Premier League match here on Sunday.
Sachin Tendulkar’s men, who have won seven of their 10 matches and now leading the tally with 14 points, lost the match in Mohali on Friday but the defeat is unlikely to dent their morale.
On the other hand, the hosts, third in the points table with six wins from 11 outings, would be high on confidence after a comprehensive nine-wicket victory over the Punjab team in their last match in front of their home crowd.
But if the visitors win, Rajasthan Royals would have to clinch both their remaining matches to enter the last-four stage.
Master batsman Tendulkar has undoubtedly been the mainstay of the Mumbai batting department, which has produced a consistent performance in the third edition of the tournament.
Besides Tendulkar, others like 24-year-old Ambati Rayudu, who made a breezy 18-ball 33 in their last match, and South African import Jean-Paul Duminy are also in fine touch and the team would be eyeing a good total if they bat first at Sawai Man Singh Stadium.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan failed to deliver against Punjab but his role in tomorrow’s match will be crucial as a solid start can help Mumbai chase down any target set by the hosts.
Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga and left-arm pacer Zaheer Khan have the ability to make batsmen’s life miserable using the new ball and pace, while the spin department will be in the safe hands of seasoned Harbhajan Singh.
On the other hand, opener Michael Lumb blasted a 43-ball 83 to guide Rajasthan Royals to victory over Punjab in the last match and one more such innings on Sunday may change many calculations.
Then there is the attacking all-rounder Yusuf Pathan, whose ability to go for big shots often blows away all the strategies of the rival bowlers.
Captain Shane Warne can also draw from his vast experience to repair the team’s innings in case of a sudden collapse.
He is also the man who can do magic with the ball in any condition, while Pathan has also proved his mettle by often giving timely breakthroughs.