Yet another Saturday IPL double-header coming our way as the RPS host RCB before MI travel to GL.
The second of three consecutive double-headers takes place this Saturday as the Rising Pune Supergiant welcome a struggling Royal Challengers Bangalore outfit to the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium.
That match will be immediately followed by a crunch tie as the Mumbai Indians make the trip to the Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium to face the Gujarat Lions.
RPS vs RCB | Saturday 29 April | Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium | 12:30
To Win Match
Supergiant 1/1 | tie 35/1 | Royal Challengers 82/100
The Royal Challengers have been the story of the competition this season, albeit all of the wrong reasons. Despite being able to field the best T20 batsmen on the planet, the side have slumped to defeat after defeat and find themselves languishing in seventh place having played at least one more game than any other franchise in the competition.
Daniel Vettori’s men capitulated to yet another embarrassing defeat on Thursday as last season’s losing finalists were restricted to 134. AB de Villiers, Virat Kohli and Chris Gayle once again failed to deliver with the bat. Only Kedar Jadhav and Pawan Negi were able to get into the 30’s before the Lions made short work of the chase, reaching 135 in just 13.5 overs.
The Supergiant also come into this next match on the back of a defeat. Their seven-wicket defeat came at the hands of the Kolkata Knight Riders who have been a class above just about everyone else in the competition thus far. A 158-run second-wicket partnership between the vastly experienced duo of Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa ensured the log-leaders chased down their 182-run target with minimal fuss, despite the best efforts of the Lions’ bowlers.
I fully expect the Supergiant to have an easier time of things with the bat this weekend. The Royal Challengers’ bowling attack has been pretty underwhelming for the last few seasons and will struggle against the Supergiant’s gun batting unit.
Looking ahead, the Supergiant have an excellent balance between bat and ball. This is in stark contrast to the top-heavy Royal Challengers who have struggled to make any sort of impression on the competition thus far.
Verdict: Rising Pune Supergiant 1/1
The Supergiant are easily the better outfit here and are pushing for a play-off place come the end of the regular season. They were perhaps a bit unlucky to lose to a very, very good Knight Riders side last time out; I fully expect them to stroll over the line against the Royal Challengers.
MI vs GL | Saturday 29 April | Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium | 16:30
To Win Match
Lions 1/1 | Tie 35/1 | Indians 8/10
The second match of the day should prove to be a much tighter affair as the Gujarat Lions clash with the Mumbai Indians. The hosts have only managed three wins so far this season and will need to start accumulating log points on a more consistent basis if they are to qualify for the play-offs.
The Indians, on the other hand, have been magnificent this term winning all but two of their games. With 12 points on the board already, it’d take something quite extraordinary for the for the Mumbai side to miss out on the play-offs – certainly it’d require them to lose their remaining games at the very least.
The Lions will take heart from the fact that the Indians lost their last match, falling three-runs short of the 160 set for them by the Rising Pune Supergiant in Mumbai. What will please the Mumbai franchise’s management will be the return to form of Rohit Sharma. After scoring just nine runs in the first four matches of the tournament, the Indian international has plundered 103 in his last three innings in the competition.
The Lions have their own in-form top order blaster in the form of Aaron Finch. The big Aussie was at his belligerent best last time out as he smashed a 34-ball 72 in his side’s seven-wicket victory over the Royal Challengers. Whether or not the likes of Jasprit Bumrah or Mitchell Johnson will allow him to get going on Saturday is another story altogether.
Again, we speak about balance: the Indians along with the Knight Riders are the only two teams who have managed to strike the perfect balance between bat and ball. It comes as no surprise then that they occupy the top two spots on the standings.
Interestingly enough, Suresh Raina currently tops the run scoring charts this seasons with 309-runs from eight innings. Very few people – myself included – would have seen this coming. Keep an eye on the Indian all-rounder, his performance with the bat could be key to the Lions’ chances.
Verdict: Mumbai Indians 8/10
The Indians have been a picture of consistency throughout their campaign this season. I simply don’t seen them losing against a resurgent Lions side. Back Rohit Sharma and his charges to come through this match with relative ease.