The fact that the tournament will be the last one for veteran Sachin Tendulkar, who will be pitted against another great and contemporary Rahul Dravid, makes the contest even more special. When: Where: (JPN/Agencies)
The spot-fixing scandal, which broke out during the IPL-6 earlier in 2013, 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.
Saturday, September 21, 2013, 8 pm IST
Sawai Mansingh Stadium, Jaipur
Fixing scandal dented Royals’ image
The unsavoury episode has cast a dark shadow over the Indian Premier League, and has dented the Royals' image badly. It would now be a herculean task for both skipper Dravid and coach Paddy Upton to keep the morale of the team high.
The hosts, however, can take confidence from the fact that they would be starting their campaign in their own den, where they had won all their eight matches during the sixth edition of the IPL.
Rajasthan were unbeaten at home in IPL
Rajasthan were one of the only two teams this year in IPL to remain unbeaten at home and despite the lack of big names in their ranks, apart from Shane Watson and Dravid, players such as Brad Hodge, Stuart Binny, James Faulkner, Kevon Cooper and Ajinkya Rahane enabled the team finish third.
Rahane remains backbone of RR batting
One of the most successful batsmen at the domestic level in recent years, Rahane, with his orthodox slogging, is the backbone of the Royals batting, while Australian all-rounder Watson and Dravid give them the solidity.
Watson a threat for Mumbai Indians
Watson top-scored for the team with 543 runs at a strike rate of 142.89, besides picking up 13 wickets in IPL-6. He is always a threat and his recent century against England in the Ashes will be a big boost to the team.
Rajasthan's bowling, though, has taken a beating with Sreesanth, Chavan, Chandila and Trivedi out.
In their absence, Watson would assume a bigger role with Faulkner and Shaun Tait spearheading the attack. Vikramjeet Singh Malik and Rahul Shukla could be the other options.
Mumbai Indians have balanced side
On the other hand, Mumbai Indians have a formidable team with the right balance and options in all departments.
Sachin Tendulkar would be eager to bow out with flying colours while the likes of Kieron Pollard, skipper Rohit Sharma, Dwayne Smith, Dinesh Kartik and Ambati Rayudu provide an invincible look to their batting.
MI to miss Malinga
Mumbai, however, will miss the services of match-winning bowler Lasith Malinga and in his absence, Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh will lead the slow brigade, which also has left-arm orthodox bowler Pragyan Ojha.
Mitchell Johnson expected to fill Malinga's role
Pacer Mitchell Johnson will be expected to fill Malinga's role but other than that they don't have too many seam options. Nathan Coulter-Nile does not have much international experience, while Abu Nechim and Rishi Dhawan are the only Indian seamers.
Pitch may be sluggish
The pitch could be a bit sluggish after a lengthy rainy spell during monsoons. "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," said curator Taposh Chatterjee.
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.
The fact that the tournament will be the last one for veteran Sachin Tendulkar, who will be pitted against another great and contemporary Rahul Dravid, makes the contest even more special.