MI and RCB Preview: Teams with Better Batsmen vs Depleted Bowling Attacks

Mumbai Indians and Royal Challengers Bangalore share the common fate of so-near-yet-so-far. Both have been one of the most popular teams, even by performance. Both have reached the final and semifinals. Yet, in multiple attempts have failed. With desire still incomplete, while MI has entrusted the World-famous captain Ricky Ponting, RCB has turned to the young and expressive Virat Kohli. It may be just a coincidence that both meet in their first matches of the season. Whose challenge is stronger for the title will be clear after this match, as the winner would certainly reach the 2013 final faster.

Both the teams may find their place in the top four almost guaranteed. RCB will make sure that unlike 2012 they do not falter again by weird Net Run Rate calculation. Both know while playing against each other they are contesting almost-guaranteed semifinal opponent. Without doubt both will want to pull each other down in an effort to reduce a highly competitive opponent in the knock outs well in advance.

Maxwell would be the player to watch for. But considering none of the IPLs big buys have performed exceptionally well and also that he will have to face Muralis (Muralitharan and Murali Kartik), he may fail to fire.

Head-to-Head Record: MI 6, RCB 5
Both the teams have played 11 matches against each other including the semifinal of two editions. In every edition they have won and lost one each except 2010 when they played thrice and MI also won in semifinal.

Past Results
2008

    RCB def MI by 5 Wickets
    MI def RCB by 9 Wickets

2009

    RCB def MI by 9 Wickets
    MI def RCB by 16 Runs

2010

    RCB def MI by 7 Wickets
    MI def RCB by 57 Runs
    MI def RCB by 35 Runs (1st semifinal)

2011

    MI def RCB by 9 wkts
    RCB def MI by 43 runs (Qualifier 2)

2012

    RCB def MI by 9 wkts
    MI def RCB by 5 wkts

Overall Performances
With 43 wins and 33 losses (1 no result) MI is the second best team of IPL after CSK in terms of performance. In addition they have also won the CLT20 once. RCB has cleared its backlog of more losses from first three editions and after 5 editions they have just got the surplus of wins with 39 wins and 38 losses (2 No result). RCBs best finish in CLT20 is of Runners up once.

RCB has reached the final twice (2009 and 2011), MI has reached the final once (2010). Both have reached the semifinal thrice – RCB from 2009-11, MI from 2010-12.

Key Contests
Gayle vs Pollard
This is the key contest that may decide the fate of the match. Both have made their presence felt in IPL, so much so that their performances have taken their teams to the finals and their failures have been the factor in their teams going down. Both are World Class T20 players and viewers would want both to succeed. The one who fails is certain to take his team’s chances down.

Muralitharan vs Tendulkar & Ponting
While Sachin have to stay longer on crease to face Murali, newly appointed Captain of Mumbai Indians Ponting is almost sure of facing his rival. The trio are legends of Cricket and each of htem have their success and failure stories against each other. Yet, when it comes to subcontinent and Indian pitches attacking Murali is almost no option. While RCBs hope of denting MIs strong batting depends on Muralitharan, MIs hope lies in tacking Muralitharan. They can not afford to play 4 quiet overs from a bowler, specially when they know that RCB batsmen can score quick and high.

Young Captain vs World-beater Old Captain
While Virat Kohli is touted as the future captain of India, Ponting has nothing to prove as a captain. Probably that is why in their desperation to win the IPL, MI management has bought him to give the reign in his hand, although he is not a very successful T20 batsman by any standard. Kohli on the other hand his own challenge of leading a bunch of exceptionally talented seniors such as Gayle, AB de Villiers and Muralitharan.

Kohli and Ponting both have a pool of talented Indian players also who can assist the best in winning the matches. If Kohli can extract the best out of Saurabh Tiwary, Murali Kartik, and other local players, Gayle’s job would be easier. But if he fails and Ponting’s army of local players such as Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Pragyan Ojha, and Munaf Patel succeed then RCB has no place to hide.

Verdict
RCBs team has men in form. Dilshan and AB de Villiers are joining after winning Player of the Series awards in their international series at home. Gayle, Kohli are always a threat. If Muralitharan and Indian bowlers can bowl decent 20 overs, RCB should win the tough contest based on home advantage and better batting unless Glen Maxwell, Rayudu, Pollard, Pragyan Ojha and Munaf Patel join hands to make Bangalore their home.

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