MI vs RCB Live Score, IPL 2024: Desperate times for Royal Challengers Bengaluru as they take on equally struggling Mumbai Indians

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THE TIMES OF INDIA | Apr 11, 2024, 17:34:21 IST

MI vs RCB IPL 2024 Live Score: Has the constant booing affected Hardik Pandya’s performance? His numbers and uncertainty over when he bats or bowls seems to suggest it has.

In the opening match against Gujarat Titans, while chasing a target of 169, the Mumbai Indians skipper held himself back and came in at No. 7. In a high-scoring chase against Sunrisers Hyderabad, he pushed himself to No. 5. Against Rajasthan Royals, he batted at No. 6 before coming in at No. 4 in the last match against Delhi Capitals.

In his first stint at MI, he had the role of a finisher. But during his two-year stint with GT, he mostly played at No. 4, sometimes No. 3, and mostly played the role of anchoring the innings before opening his shoulders towards the end.

At MI, the batting line-up is well settled with the top three consisting of Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav and the finisher’s role being assigned to Tim David and Romario Shepherd, after his heroics in the last match. With most of the slots taken, Pandya will have to play a similar role for MI as he did as GT and decide quickly whether he wants to come in at No. 4 or 5, so that Tilak Varma also knows at which position he bats. We saw a glimpse of it when he walked at No. 4 against DC and held the innings from spiralling out of control when MI had lost four quick wickets. So don’t be surprised henceforth if he walks in at that number.

So far, things haven’t gone Pandya’s way. In the chases against GT and SRH, he couldn’t get the team over the line and that Pandya finishing touch, which earned him his stripes during his first stint with MI, was missing.

Maybe, because he is coming back after a long break, he is still feeling his way back. Before the IPL, he last played in the 2023 ODI World Cup where he injured his ankle during the match against Bangladesh.

Australia allrounder Tim David backed Pandya to come good. “Yeah, we’ve had conversations about how we played. Hardik has been playing a really important role for our team. If you look at the last match, we struggled really hard for momentum towards the back end and Hardik played perfectly and it set the platform for myself and Romario. Hardik’s been phenomenal in the way he’s been playing and that’s what we need at some point. Sometimes it will be me, sometimes other guys. We have full faith in him. We know he has the power and when he gets into that situation he is going to win the game for us,” said David.

The uncertainty has creeped in his bowling as well. He bowled in the first two games but hasn’t rolled his arm over since. In the last match against DC, Shepherd bowled his full quota of four overs and ended up conceding 54 runs. MI could have done with Pandya bowling an over or two as it could have given them more variation on a track that stayed true throughout the match.

It’s crucial for MI that their skipper starts bowling again starting with the encounter against Royal Challengers Bengaluru at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.

If one takes away Jasprit Bumrah’s spell against DC, where he conceded just 22 runs in four overs and took two wickets, MI’s attack looks a bit pedestrian and they will be served well if Pandya bowls regularly if not the full quota.

For that to happen, Pandya will have to cancel the outside noise and focus on the process that has brought him much success.

It will be a must-win encounter for both the teams to keep their playoffs hopes alive. MI have just two points after four matches while RCB have equal number of points but have played one match more.
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