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Sunday, October 25, 2020

Preview: RR hope for Stokes’ return against SRH, MI face DC in battle of equals

The Royals will be relieved to have the services of Stokes who completes his mandatory quarantine on Saturday. His absence has severely impacted the team's campaign, as the inaugural season champions struggled to figure out their best combination.

By: PTI | Updated: October 11, 2020 8:27:29 am
Ben Stokes, RR vs KXIPIt was Stokes' father who reminded the star all-rounder of his duty towards his job and that might be playing in the 29-year-old's mind. (Rajasthan Royals/Twitter)

Bruised and battered after a string of defeats, Rajasthan Royals will hope the presence of Ben Stokes gets the adrenaline flowing as they seek a revival of fortunes against a charged-up Sunrisers Hyderabad in the 26th match of the season on Sunday.  Rajasthan are struggling at the penultimate spot on the points table after two wins and four straight defeats, while Sunrisers have won three out of their six games so far and occupy the third position.

The Royals will be relieved to have the services of Stokes who completes his mandatory quarantine on Saturday. His absence has severely impacted the team’s campaign, as the inaugural season champions struggled to figure out their best combination.

Stokes had taken compassionate leave in the middle of England’s home Test series against Pakistan in August and travelled to New Zealand to attend to his father who had been diagnosed with brain cancer.

It was Stokes’ father who reminded the star all-rounder of his duty towards his job and that might be playing in the 29-year-old’s mind.

It is to be seen whether the World Cup winner, who has been out of action for some time now, is afforded the luxury of some practice or is played straight up.

“Stokes hasn’t had a lot of practice, he gets out of quarantine tomorrow, so we’ll see if he plays the day after tomorrow,” skipper Steve Smith had said after the match against Delhi Capitals.

Rajasthan, having lost to Delhi Capitals by a big margin of 46 runs, will look to stage a comeback.

An aggressive bowling display coupled with some good fielding saw them restrict Delhi Capitals to 184 for eight. However, the batsmen, save Yashasvi Jaiswal (34) and Rahul Tewatia (38), struggled during the chase.

Rajasthan’s bowling is shouldered by pacer Jofra Archer and spinners Tewatia and Shreyas Gopal.

The Royals were off to a flying start, winning both their games at Sharjah but the former champions have since struggled to replicate those performances.

Having a slightly better season than their beleaguered opponents, Sunrisers were on their way to suffer back-to-back defeats before opener Jonny Bairstow and star spinner Rashid Khan helped them beat Kings XI Punjab by three wickets on Thursday.

For Sunrisers, Bairstow has been in prime form this season, smashing 97 off 55 balls against KXIP, and the English opener was at his explosive best against the Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore, too.

Mumbai Indians and Delhi capitals face off in battle of equals

MI vs RR Mumbai Indians are confident after consistent performances from the players in last few matches. (BCCI/IPL)

Many small battles are expected to unfold when the season’s two most consistent teams — Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals — cross swords in a clash of equals in the 27th match of the Indian Premier League on Sunday.

Be it a potent top-order, a strong middle-order or a lethal bowling attack, there is hardly anything that separates the two sides.
If at all one team has a slight upper hand in any department, it’s the experience in Mumbai Indians’ pace bowling arsenal. Both Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, with years of experience behind them, could be the difference in the most sought-after contest of this edition.

It means that Shikhar Dhawan will have to strive harder to give the Capitals a solid start. The left-handed batsman has got starts in the last few games but needs a bigger innings under his belt and if it comes in a big contest, Capitals will have gained a lot.

In a way, young Prithvi Shaw and the in-form Rishabh Pant will face their first stiff test when they face Bumrah and Boult, who can trouble any batsman with their pace and accuracy.

The good news for Capitals is Shimron Hetmyer getting his touch back with the innings against Rajasthan Royals on Friday. He seemed to be the only weak link in Capitals’ ranks but his six-laden knock against Royals has removed that worry.

Capitals’ skipper Shreyas Iyer has been very impressive so far both as a batsman and as the leader of the pack. It will be interesting to see how he uses his resources against his in-form counterpart Rohit Sharma and his smashing middle-order due of Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard.

Delhi Capitals registered a 46-run victory over Rajasthan Royals on Friday. (BCCI/IPL)

They can change the complexion of the game within minutes and handling them will be the key. Krunal Pandya, too, is capable of conjuring up cameos that can turn things around for Mumbai Indians.

Iyer has the exciting South African pace duo of Kagiso Rabada and Anrich Nortze to do the job in that department. The guile of Ravichandran Ashwin further adds sting to Capitals’ attack.

Axar Patel has nicely settled into the side after he replaced the injured Amit Mishra. His all-round ability is another plus for the Capitals.

At the big Abu Dhabi ground, a score in the vicinity of 170 is normally par for any other side in the IPL, but for Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals, even 200 may not appear safe.

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