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MI ready to quell royal challenge

Mumbai: The dice has consistently rolled in favour of the Mumbai Indians this season and it has been no different in the semi-finals. Sachin Tendulkar’s team has entered the knockout stage of the IPL for the first time this year and a quirk of fate will see them play their semi-final match at home.

It’s a classic case of one team’s loss being another’s gain! Saturday’s twin blasts at the M Chinnaswamy stadium has forced the two semi-finals to be shifted out of Bangalore to Navi Mumbai and odds are now heavily stacked in favour of home team.

For Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) it’s just the reverse although technically speaking, the DY Patil stadium in Nerul is officially one of the home centres of the Deccan Chargers, would be a neutral venue for this game.

It’s not that Mumbai needed any divine intervention to qualify. The demolition job they carried out at Bangalore on that unfortunate evening was ample proof of the supreme form and consistency they have shown this season.

But little things do make a difference during big games and the vociferous crowd support they will enjoy is certainly one of them.

The loss in the last league engagement against KKR should be taken as a blip in the radar as they had rested many of their key players including skipper Sachin.

But Anil Kumble’s team would take confidence from the fact that they bearded the lion in its own den when the two sides met in the first leg at the Brabourne stadium. That seven-wicket drubbing would also remain as Mumbai’s only defeat at home.

That performance also exposed a few chinks in Mumbai’s batting armour, which has otherwise been solid. RCB bowlers however would surely like to do an encore of their first leg game which they won by seven wickets.

One positive from the entertainment point of view is that the DY Patil stadium has hosted only three games this season so far. That means, the pitch on the centre square is fresh, unlike the other venues, and therefore should provide for an even contest between bat and ball.

Something that the IPL very badly needs at the moment. It’s ironic that a tournament that has consistently put glamour and money at the altar of the game should look to on-field entertainment to dig itself out of the mess.

The Bangalore blasts have added to the already tough security measures in and out of the stadium.

Pickets were set up and traffic regulated around the stadium from 6 am. In the evening when the teams arrived to practice under the lights, it was “khaki, khaki everywhere!”

But all that is bound to be pushed to the background once a certain five-foot five-inch clad in blue jersey takes the field on Wednesday.

No marks for guessing that Sachin, who will turn 37 this Saturday, still continues to be the topic of discussion in the opposition dressing room. Rejuvenated after a much needed rest, Sachin must be itching to get back into action.

Sachin who didn’t make any significant contribution in the two matches against the RCB will like to make amends on Wednesday. The game also has its sub-plots, like Kevin Pietersen taking on Lasith Malinga and Kumble trying to pin down Kieron Pollard.

Overall, it promises to be a mouth-watering contest.

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