Can Mumbai’s big hitters rediscover their mojo in Delhi?

Preview

Rajasthan Royals, too, will be hoping for a change of fortunes having struggled with the ball at the death

Big picture

7.45. That’s the Mumbai Indians’ scoring rate in the death overs this season. No team has done as badly in that phase so far this season. Mumbai have never performed as badly in that phase in their history.

Personnel isn’t the issue (the same group of batters managed a death-overs scoring rate of 13.19 last season) and form might be, but conditions certainly were during the first five games of Mumbai’s season, all played on the notoriously slow pitches of Chennai.

That part of the tournament is now done and dusted, and Mumbai now move to Delhi. They’ll hope the change of scene will help their renowned middle-order hitters turn back into themselves.

Their first opponents in this leg of the tournament are the Rajasthan Royals, who, coincidentally, happen to be IPL 2021’s worst death-bowling team so far, conceding 11.51 runs per over in that phase. They too will hope the change of scene will change their fortunes. The overall scoring rate this season in Mumbai, where the Royals played their first five matches, is 8.81, more than a run per over higher than the scoring rates achieved in Chennai and in Ahmedabad so far.

How will conditions at the Feroz Shah Kotla pan out, and which team will they benefit, at a stage of the tournament when league positions begin to become less fluid?

Likely XIs

Mumbai Indians: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Ishan Kishan, 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Jayant Yadav/Adam Milne, 9 Rahul Chahar, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Trent Boult.

Rajasthan Royals: 1 Jos Buttler, 2 Yashasvi Jaiswal, 3 Sanju Samson (capt & wk), 4 Shivam Dube, 5 David Miller, 6 Rahul Tewatia, 7 Riyan Parag, 8 Chris Morris, 9 Jaydev Unadkat/Shreyas Gopal, 10 Chetan Sakariya, 11 Mustafizur Rahman.

Strategy punt

Mumbai might want to use their two premier fast bowlers in tandem when Sanju Samson comes to the crease. Samson has scored 16 runs off 16 balls against Boult and 46 off 43 against Bumrah in the IPL, and they’ve dismissed him twice each.

It’s a widely used ploy to bowl legspin early to Rohit Sharma, but that shouldn’t be the only reason for the Royals to play Shreyas Gopal and use him in the Powerplay. He has an excellent record against Sharma in the IPL – 13 balls, 15 runs, two dismissals – and he’s done even better against Quinton de Kock, conceding just 18 runs in 28 balls while dismissing him once.

Stats that matter

  • The team batting second won five out of seven games (including one via Super Over) at the Feroz Shah Kotla during the 2019 season, the last time the ground hosted IPL matches.
  • Mumbai are yet to chase in IPL 2021.
  • Jos Buttler has been in indifferent form so far this season – 89 runs in five innings at 17.80 and a strike rate of 127.14 – but Mumbai will know he likes batting against them. In four innings against Mumbai in the IPL, Buttler has 259 runs at an average of 86.33 and a strike rate of 175.00, including three half-centuries.

    Karthik Krishnaswamy is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

  • (With Inputs from ESPN)

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