The first match of this year’s Champions league T20 2013, the curtain raiser of the official event and arguably the most anticipated match of the tournament too. Potentially this might be the last time that Sachin Tendulkar will be pitted against another great and contemporary Rahul Dravid at the Sawai Man Singh Stadium, which makes this contest between Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians even the more special. The spot-fixing scandal, which broke out during the IPL-6 earlier this year, saw the BCCI imposing life bans on Test pacer S Sreesanth and spinner Ankeet Chavan, and one-year suspension on Sidharth Trivedi, while another player Ajit Chandila`s fate is yet to be decided. Desperate to exorcise the ghosts of the spot-fixing scandal once and for all, Rajasthan Royals will look to start afresh as they face the daunting prospect of running into IPL-6 winners Mumbai Indians in the inaugural group stage match of the Champions League T20 here on Saturday.
However Rajasthan Royals can take confidence from the fact that they are starting their campaign in their own den, where they had won all their eight matches during the sixth edition of the IPL, one of only two teams to do so. While Mumbai Indians on the other hand come into this year’s Champions League T20 competition as the Champions of IPL 2013 and look to cement their position as the Best franchise in the world winning this tournament. However both teams also have their own worries too. While Mumbai Indians are without their key bowler, their go-to guy, their partner breaker, their premier strike bowler Lasith Malinga, Rajasthan Royals themselves are very short of bowling options with Sreesanth, Chavan, Chandila and Trivedi all out of their side. Mumbai Indians will look to the experience of Harbhajan Singh and Mitchell Johnson to deliver for them, Rajasthan Royals would turn their heads to Shane Watson, who would assume a bigger role, with Faulkner spearheading the attack. Tait, Pravin Tambe, Binny, Menaria and Cooper can come in handy as well.
Mumbai Indians’ strength certainly holds their strength in their deep and powerful batting line-up with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Dwayne Smith, Rohit Sharma, Karthik along with the power of Kieron Pollard in the slog overs. Rajasthan themselves have a decent batting line-up with Shane Watson, Ajinkya Rahane, experienced campaigner Brad Hodge and the youthful exuberance of Sanju Samson. The pitch for the match could be a bit tricky. Taposh Chatterjee, the pitch curator said “It was an above average monsoon with prolonged rainy spells. We have all the necessary equipment but nature is supreme. There might still some moisture underneath and the wicket might be a little sluggish. It would take some time to settle down,” Traditionally Rajasthan Royals have loved to win the toss and chase down the opposition’s target. But in the previous fixture between the two sides at Rajasthan Royals’ home ground, Rajasthan Royals batted first and made a huge total of 179. Though it’d seem possible for Mumbai Indians to chase it down, they crumbled like a pack of cards and ended up losing by a massive 87-run margin getting bumbled out for 92 in 18.2 overs.
If Rajasthan Royals could play even 70% as well as they did that night, they’ve a fairly good chance to upsetting the favorites and current IPL champions, Mumbai Indians. Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (capt), Sachin Tendulkar, Abu Nechim, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rishi Dhawan, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson, Dinesh Karthik, Glenn Maxwell, Pragyan Ojha, Akshar Patel, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Dwayne Smith, Aditya Tare. Rajasthan Royals: Rahul Dravid (capt), Stuart Binny, Kevon Cooper, James Faulkner, Brad Hodge, Vikramjeet Malik, Ashok Menaria, Ajinkya Rahane, Sanju Samson, Rahul Shukla, Shaun Tait, Pravin Tambe, Siddharth Trivedi, Shane Watson, Dishant Yagnik.