MI vs RR, IPL 2024: Struggling Mumbai Indians hosts in-form Rajasthan Royals, skipper Hardik Pandya eyes maiden win

Being Hardik Pandya is not easy. Constantly enduring public scrutiny and rebounding stronger each time is a formidable challenge. But every time he has been put to test, Hardik has found a way to take things in his stride and bounce back. That has been the secret of his success – from being a carefree youth to leadership in IPL and India’s T20I team.

Ahead of this edition of the Indian Premier League, when Hardik took over the reins from Rohit Sharma as the captain of Mumbai Indians, the fans of the franchise seemed divided over the move. And that seems to continue in the tournament as Hardik has been subject to vehement booing in different venues over the last week. To add to the woes, Mumbai Indians has lost its first two games and is currently reeling at the bottom of the points table.

However, both Hardik and Mumbai Indians will hope for a change in fortunes when the franchise features in its first home game at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday, against Rajasthan Royals.

Though Mumbai Indians enjoys a 4-1 head-to-head record in its last five meetings with Rajasthan Royals, the home team needs to reboot against a high-flying side, led by Sanju Samson, which has started its campaigns with two wins.

WATCH | Riyan Parag repays faith, shines in new role at No. 4 for Rajasthan Royals

After winning both its home games quite convincingly, Royals enter the contest buoying with confidence. While Yashasvi Jaiswal and Jos Buttler are yet to find their mojo, captain Sanju and Riyan Parag have ensured that the batting department looks sorted. In the first two games, the team has been able to overcome tricky situations, with someone or the other putting their hands up and guiding the team to big totals.

On the other hand, Mumbai Indians – despite some gritty knocks by Tilak Varma, Tim David and Naman Dhir – have failed to fire as a unit. While Hardik Pandya had scores of 11 and 24 in the first two games, a big score is due from Rohit, who provided strong starts, but failed to convert them into big runs.

However, in front of home crowd, the Mumbai Indians players will be keen on getting back to the winning ways. While there have been debates over Hardik not using Jasprit Bumrah to the best way possible, the loyal fans will be hoping that the new captain learns from his mistakes and fix the loose ends.

With Rajasthan Royals having an all-bases-covered bowling line-up, it won’t be an easy task for the home team to thwart the challenge, but the fact that it clinched a closely-fought contest at the same venue last year will give Mumbai Indians some hope and a lot of confidence.

Another high-intensity clash awaits. 

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