Final destination

SP6.jpg

With new developments emerging daily from the murky spot-fixing scandal, the IPL-6 season, which has reached its final leg here in Kolkata, is under a cloud. However, the tournament’s penultimate match (Qualifier 2) between the Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals at the Eden Gardens on Friday is under threat from a different sort of cloud, quite literally.
The conditions were overcast with a slight drizzle here on the eve of the match and the weather forecast for Thursday suggests that their may be a slight hiccup in the conduct of the match.
With the Kolkata Knight Riders being shown the door early and Sachin Tendulkar’s participation in the match doubtful, the Eden faithfuls would want to settle for no less than a keenly fought contest.
The Royals will enter the contest high on confidence having knocked Sunrisers Hyderabad out in the Eliminator on Wednesday in Delhi and a chance to make an appearance in the final will spur them on. Especially keeping in mind that three of their (suspended) players are under investigation for alleged spot-fixing.
Mumbai, on the other hand, have lost their last two matches and will be keen to bring the law of averages into the picture, that too when a berth in the final is at stake.
Man for man, the Mumbai Indians looks a better placed team although they have an even record against the Royals in the season with both winning their respective home games.
Mumbai have more firepower as compared to Royals in their batting line-up in the form of Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Karthik, skipper Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard, who can demolish any opposition.
And their bowling unit, led by Mitchell Johnson, Lasith Malinga, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha is among the best in the league.
If Tendulkar does not play, Aditya Tare is likely to continue with opening duties for MI.
But even with Tendulkar around, his pairing at the top, first with Ricky Ponting and then with Smith, did not reap the desired results for Mumbai. Mumbai’s biggest threat will come from two of Royals’ overseas players in Shane Watson and Brad Hodge. If the two Australians can churn out something special, Mumbai have their task cut out.
Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane have been assured at the top and Stuart Binny’s cameos late in the innings have served them well.
The spin department looks thin and now with Ajit Chandila and Ankeet Chavan out of the equation, the pace bowlers, led by the season’s leading wicket-taker James Faulkner will have to share the burden along with the support cast of Watson, Siddharth Trivedi and Kevon Cooper.

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