RR vs MI: Mumbai Indians take on Rajasthan Royal in a must-win clash on Tuesday.© BCCI/IPL

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It’s down to the business end of the league phase now and there is place for just one team to make it to the playoffs. That makes the encounter between Rajasthan Royals and Mumbai Indians a crunch game, which will not only affect the fortunes of the two teams involved but can also have an impact on that of Kolkata Knight Riders. But first things first, two-time defending champions Mumbai Indians will be knocked out if they lose this match. Rohit Sharma’s team is on 10 points from 12 matches and in case of a loss in this encounter, the maximum points they could have after their final match against SunRisers Hyderabad is 12. A victory will put both RR and KKR on 12 points and the winner of that match then goes on to the playoffs.

Hence, keeping all the permutations and combinations of net run-rate aside; Mumbai’s primary target is to win the match. But Rohit Sharma’s men have been in dismal form in the UAE leg of the tournament as they have won just 1 of their 5 matches after the restart. The batting unit has misfired completely, with Quinton de Kock being the only shining light. The spin duo of Rahul Chahar and Krunal Pandya too have been terribly out of form.

On Tuesday, Rohit Sharma will have to take the onus on himself to give his team a good start and reduce the burden on de Kock. Rajasthan have a young but energetic pace bowling attack, led by the Bangladeshi master of disguise Mustafizur Rahman. Rahman and fellow left-arm medium pacer Chetan Sakariya can vary their pace well to create problems on a sluggish Sharjah track.

Rajasthan’s spin department is low on experience and that is what the Mumbai power-hitters should look to attack. The likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard will have to use the long handle to good effect to ensure Mumbai score at a good pace.

For Rajasthan the responsibility of scoring runs will once again fall on the shoulders of captain Sanju Samson. The wicketkeeper-batter has been in terrific form, having scored 480 runs in the season so far.

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The batting form of Shivam Dube will inspire confidence in the team but the Sharjah track isn’t a true one and the likes Boult and Bumrah can be effective. Spin is the weakness of Mumbai too and Samson will have to bat deep to exploit the form of the Mumbai tweakers.

Rajasthan has been at the receiving end of some heart-breaking losses against Mumbai over the years in the league. This is their chance to land a knockout blow on the five-time champions.

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