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IPL 2014 preview: MI must beat RR to keep playoff hopes alive

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Ahmedabad: Their hopes of making the playoffs all but over, defending champions Mumbai Indians would look to upset the equations for Rajasthan Royals, who would be aiming to strengthen their position in top-four when the two sides face off in an IPL match here tomorrow. Lying second from bottom in the points, Mumbai have won just three of their 10 matches and have hardly looked or played like the defending champions. Rajasthan, on the other hand, are sitting pretty on third in the table after notching up seven wins in their 11 matches. They inaugural champions have been performing as per the expectations with some little-known players as usual contributing massively to their success. However, Rajasthan will go into the match after a loss against Chennai Super Kings, who exposed some of their batting frailties with incisive bowling. Barring captain Shane Watson’s half-century, none of their other top-half batsmen contributed significantly as Chennai managed to hold them to a low total before chasing it down rather easily. It was an off day for the likes of Steven Smith, Karun Nair and Ajinkya Rahane. The three, however, would look to fire against Mumbai, who have gained some confidence after defeating Sunrisers Hyderabad in their previous match. It was a rare day of their batting getting it right with Lendl Simmons and Ambati Rayudu delivering the goods with half-centuries. However, skipper Rohit Sharma is yet to strike consistent form in the tournament, which has perhaps been a major reason for the team’s failure this season. On the bowling front, the two teams, clashing for the first time this year, are more or less evenly-matched. Mumbai have a star pace ace in Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga, who is third on the highest wicket-takers’ list with 16 to his credit. Rajasthan do not have a famed player to boast of even though a 42-year-old Pravin Tambe has made quite a name for himself with his performance. The spinner is currently fourth in the highest wicket-takers list of this season with 15 scalps. Mumbai Indians squad: Rohit Sharma (C), Lasith Malinga, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh, Ambati Rayudu, Michael Hussey, Pragyan Ojha, Corey Anderson, Praveen Kumar, Josh Hazlewood, CM Gautam, Aditya Tare, Apoorv Wankhade, Marchant de Lange, Krishmar Santokie, Ben Dunk, Pavan Suyal, Sushant Marathe, Jasprit Bumrah, Shreyas Gopal and Lendl Simmons. Rajasthan Royals: Shane Watson (c), Ajinkya Rahane, James Faulkner, Stuart Binny, Sanju Samson, Brad Hodge, Steven Smith, Abhishek Nayar, Ben Cutting, Kane Richardson, Tim Southee, Unmukt Chand, Ankush Bains, Vikramjeet Malik, Rahul Tewatia, Ankit Sharma, Amit Mishra, Deepak Hooda, Rajat Bhatia, Kevon Cooper, Iqbal Abdulla, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pravin Tambe, Karun Nair, Dishant Yagnik.

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