With the Tendulkars,Gibbses and Rohits of the world back in the dug-out early on Monday,those swinging anxiously on their spectator seats at the Chinnaswamy stadium would have predicted a Mumbai loss from thereon.
Boasting of a star-studded line-up India and international Mumbai would have seen their supporters descend into a pit of gloom. For such is the pre-eminence of their top batters,that the domestic players invariably tend to get overshadowed.
However,one name from amongst the domestic players that has stood out is Ambati Rayudu,making a special case for himself in the IPL. With his consistent performances since the last three years,the talented 26-year-old has quietly rescued the ship when his team needed it the most.
Be it his match-turning 81 against Bangalore on Monday,or his 62 against Delhi when his side again lost three wickets for a very meagre score,Rayudu has invariably thrived in crucial roles. At a time when many domestic cricketers have failed to maintain consistent performances in the IPL,the Andhra boy has stayed ahead of the curve.
When Kolkata Knight Riders play the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday night,Rayudu will surely remember the six he smashed off L Balajis last ball,with Mumbai needing four runs to win when they travelled to Eden Gardens. Many of his team-mates feel that being short tempered at times has been of great help to Rayudu,as he has channeled all his fury into batting with ferocity. MI skipper Harbhajan Singh too has steadfastly maintained that Rayudu deserves a promotion to the national side.
However,even though MI have been bolstered by Rayudu,the team has come up with mixed performances at their home ground. They lost their last game at Wankhede to RCB,where Mumbai complained that the pitch was not suited to them.
Mumbais worries are reflected in Kolkatas. Placed third in the table,KKR will be expecting their middle-order to contribute. Apart from in-form Gautam Gambhir and Brendon McCullum,the Kolkata side has missed contributions from the middle-order.
A win here will see the franchise book a place in the top four,but they would do well to not celebrate prematurely if they do indeed have MI under the pump at three-down.
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