B'lore Challengers to face evenly matched Mumbai Indians

Published: Saturday, April 19, 2008, 3:35 [IST]
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Mumbai: The Bangalore Royal Challengers, after being mauled in the first match by the Kolkata Knight Riders, would be looking to set things right, when they take on Mumbai Indians on the latter's home turf in their second Indian Premier League (IPL) Twenty20 clash at the Wankhede stadium here on Sunday.

Bangalore captain Rahul Dravid, after a 140-run loss yesterday, has a massive job in his hand as his team will be running tomorrow, into a team consisting of Sri Lankan marauder Sanath Jayasuriya, who is bound to open the innings with captain Sachin Tendulkar, if the Mumbai maestro has regained full fitness from his groin injury. The two on their day can murder any attack.

Dravid, whose team saw New Zealand wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum take away the game by smashing the attack to all conners of the ground, must be sorely missing South Africa's exciting pace find Dale Steyn, who is busy in domestic cricket back home, and injured Australian left-arm bowler Nathan Bracken.

Injured Test captain Anil Kumble was also missed in the bowling department and it's not likely that he would be fit in time to take the field against Mumbai.

If the bowling appeared to be the weak link in the visiting team's armour, their batting too was under question in chase of 222 for 3 despite the presence of Dravid, and South Africa's Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher.

The team owned by liquor baron Vijay Mallya will be anxious to put up an improved display and get into the winning ways against an evenly matched opposition.

As far as the Reliance Industries-owned Mumbai team is concerned, their biggest worry is the fitness of Tendulkar.

''There are still two days to go and a decision of whether I will play or not will be taken just before the match,'' Tendulkar said, when the 27-strong team was launched at a function here on Thursday.

In case, Tendulkar fails to pass the fitness test, off spinner and vice captain Harbhajan Singh will take over the reins. Harbhajan would be expected to bring the aggressiveness he displays on the field to the captaincy stakes too. Even as Tendulkar's fitness remains an issue, the team, with as many as 27 playing members on its rolls, has been going about its task of gearing up with confidence.

It has three wicketkeepers, including Luke Ronchi of Western Australia - a hard-hitting batsman yet to play for his country in any form.

Going by the practice sessions, he seems to be the first choice ahead of two other younger Indians - Pinal Shah and Yogesh Takawale - both of whom can hit the ball powerfully.

Among the key players in the team are Harbhajan and former South African captain Shaun Pollock. Pollock has just retired from international cricket and can be miserly with the ball and extremely handy lower down with the bat.

The same holds good for Harbhajan, who would be a very crucial bowling arm of the team in the middle of the innings with his ability to check runs as well as take wickets.

For pace and bounce, they have the lanky Sri Lankan Dilhara Fernando, while left-arm Ashish Nehra, keen to get back into the national team, too can be a handful, if and when the ball swings.


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