Misfiring Mumbai Indians, struggling to get their team combination right, will take on the formidable batting might of Royal Challengers Bangalore in a potentially explosive IPL clash at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.
RCB, on the other hand, have a tricky bowling combination to set right in the absence of injured Australian pace spearhead Mitchell Starc — ruled out of the season — and miserly leggie Samuel Badree, who is yet to make an appearance in the T20 league after picking up an injury during West Indies’ triumphant run in the World T20 championship.
MI and RCB have fought tooth and nail since 2008 with the IPL result score-line reading 9-8 in favour of the hosts, who have tasted defeat three times in four games this season, including in the last two, in their bid to retain the crown that they won after a similar, poor beginning in 2015.
Last season, the score was tied 1-1 with each team outsmarting the other in their respective away games.
RCB come into the needle clash after being flattened by South African wicket-keeper batsman Quinton de Kock’s masterly hundred, the first ton by any batsman this season, and they will need to quickly correct their bowling combination.
Two-time title winners, MI have slumped to defeats in both their home matches this season – to IPL debutants Rising Pune Supergiants and Gujarat Lions – and they would be keen to score their first win on their traditional home ground in one of the two remaining games scheduled at the Wankhede Stadium before they move to Jaipur, which will become their new home for rest of the season.
Mumbai’s top-order batting has been miserable so far barring the clash against Kolkata Knight Riders, another two-time champion outfit, when captain Rohit Sharma’s superbly compiled unbeaten 84 led them to victory.
But in the other three games, the leading batsmen have failed to click as a unit. Even a re-worked batting order against Sun Risers Hyderabad, by dropping the out-of-form Kieron Pollard from the eleven and making Parthiv Patel open the batting with newcomer Martin Guptill, replacement for their consistent but injured opener Lendl Simmons, did not produce the desired result.
In the absence of their ever-reliance Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga, Mumbai have depended upon the New Zealand duo of Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan to make early inroads and this combination is expected to continue against RCB.
After failing to contain SRH skipper David Warner at Hyderabad yesterday, Harbhajan Singh would be keen to get back into his best form at a ground where he often bowls well.