Mumbai Indians have clear edge as Bangalore Royal Challengers battle the ghost of McCullum


Sachin Tendulkar unlikley to play, in which case Harbhajan Singh will lead Mumbai Indians 



Another battle between two former Indian skippers is on the cards when the Reliance owned Mumbai Indians captained by Sachin Tendulkar takes on battered Bangalore Royal Challengers led by Rahul Dravid.

Only this time, Sachin’s presence is not guaranteed as he is fighting injuries. A decision on whether or not Sachin will play will be taken just before the match, but odds are that he will sit out.

But that does not give any breather to Rahul Dravid’s Bangalore Royal Challengers.

Explosive batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, who can tear apart any bowling attack, will most certainly open with Robin Uthappa, the Bangalore lad whom Dravid and Mallya would have rued not to get in the player auction.

The dazzling Uthappa can be as dangerous or even better than Sanath Jayasuriya and therein starts the woes of Bangalore Royal Challengers.

Luke Ronchi is another prolific big hitter that they would have to contend with in the batting line up. Ronchi’s larger than life exploits in Australian league had earned him a call from none other than Sachin Tendulkar, an honour that he will look to repay with the willow at Wankhade stadium on Sunday.

South African all-rounder Shaun Pollock comes with a vast array of experience and the immaculate ability to bowl on the spot. This means that he have the opportunity to trouble Bangalore Royal Challengers with the bat as well the ball.

Dilhardo Fernando and Ashish Nehra would ably back Pollock as they try and check the run flow and take wickets.

And the man who would lead them all in the probable absence of Sachin Tendulkar is Harbhajan Singh, who was bagged by the Mumbai Indians for a whopping $850,000. Harbhajan’s experience in volatile, high-profile contests would come to the fore as Mumbai Indians’ coach Lalchand Rajput knits his strategy to tame the Bangalore Royal challengers.

The pressure clearly is on Vijay Mallya promoted Bangalore Royal Challengers and its skipper Rahul Dravid.

Lasith Malinga has been ruled out due to injuries, but Mumbai Indians have roped in Dwayne Bravo to replace him. The West Indian, however, is not likely to play the match against Mumbai Indians. Mumbai Indians’s second match against Chennai Super Kings is likely to see Bravo taking the field.

Rahul Dravid has been at the receiving end of a barrage of criticism for selecting a team, which resembles more of a test side than even a one day side, while the requirements of Twenty20 is clearly more unique than even ODIs. The Bangalore skipper has his own logic and game plan and a sound cricketing brain, but that needs to be converted into a win at any cost to settle down in the tournament.

Bangalore Royal Challengers has a formidable bowling attack, but its is yet to take off in the absence of Anil Kumble and pace spearhead Dale Steyn.

Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, fresh from his last over exploits against Sri Lanka, has arrived but he is unlikely to play in the Mumbai match.

Zaheer Khan, who would have a better idea about the Wankhade stadium pitch, would have to ensure that he doesn’t get hit initially.

Many think a wayward Zaheer’s first over cost India the world cup final against Australia and also Bangalore Royal Challengers first match against Kolkata Knight Riders. But if he gets into the groove, Zaheer can be menacing.

Misabah-ul-Haq’s absence is a major issue for Bangalore Royal Challengers, as there aren’t many who can hit the red cherry out of the ground in the Team.

A pitch favouring the batsmen makes Bangalore’s Royal Challengers’ task more difficult. Jacques Kallis will have to cut loose if they are to put up a decent total. Mark Boucher can be deployed to tackle Harbhajan Singh as the South African is a able player of spin.

Praveen Kumar emerged as the best bet for Bangalore Royal Challengers in both batting and bowling. Praveen Kumar was the only one to reach double digits in the mach against Kolkata Knight Riders.

Virat Kohli would have another opportunity to show that his Under-19 skills can be elevated to the international level.

Mumbai Indians are the clear favourites and Bangalore Royal Challengers would have to come up with some astonishing performance to lift their own spirits and bury the ghost of Brendon McCullum.



Mumbai Indians

Sachin Tendulkar, Harbhajan Singh, Sanath Jayasuriya, Robin Uthappa, Shaun Pollock, Dilhara Fernando, Luke Ronchi, Abhishek Nayar, Ajinkya Rahane, Dominic Thornley, Musavir Khote, Dhaval Kulkarni, Pinal Shah, Sorah Tiwary, Siddarth Chitnis, Swapnil Singh, Vikrant Yelligeti.


Bangalore Royal Challengers.

Rahul Dravid, Wasim Jaffer, Mark Boucher, Jacques Kallis, Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, Zaheer Khan, Cameron White, Ashley Noffke, Virat Kohli, Praveen Kumar, Sunil Joshi, Ross Taylor, Sunil Joshi, K P Appanna, Sreevats Goswami, J Arunkumar.   

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