Durban:With their inspirational skipper Shane Warne ruled out owing to a hamstring injury, Rajasthan Royals will be a lesser force when they take on in-form Mumbai Indians in a crucial Indian Premier League match on Thursday.
Warne's hamstring injury means his much-anticipated face-off with Mumbai skipper Sachin Tendulkar, which was prevented by rain the last time around, will not happen yet again.
Both the teams are tied on 11 points after 11 games but Mumbai is ahead on net run rate at the fourth spot and tomorrow's match might prove be crucial in deciding the semifinal spots.
Rajasthan's current form is not too encouraging and after the team lost to Chennai Super Kings and Deccan Chargers in its last two matches, Warne's imposing presence would surely be missed by the defending champions.
Mumbai, on the other hand, seems to have recovered from a hat-trick of losses and have registered two back-to-back wins over Royal Challengers Bangalore and Kings XI Punjab to put their campaign back on track.
The team's batting looks solid with Tendulkar in sublime form and JP Duminy emerging as the middle order mainstay. Among others, Dwayne Bravo has also been among the runs while Ajinkya Rahane is in sparkling form.
Sanath Jayasuriya's form, however, remains a concern and Tendulkar would expect the Sri Lankan to wriggle out of the bad patch tomorrow and play his natural, swashbuckling cricket.
Mumbai bowlers are not doing too badly and injured pace spearhead Zaheer Khan's absence has not been felt much. Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh have combined to lead the attack well, although the fiery off-spinner has complained that he is not aware of his role in the team.
In comparison, Rajasthan's batting is too reliant on Graeme Smith and Yusuf Pathan although Naman Ojha, who was initially sent back, has turned out to be quite a surprise package.
However, the unavailability of pacers Kamran Khan and Amit Singh, both of whom were found guilty of having a suspect action, has taken the bite out of Rajasthan's bowling attack.
And with the talismanic Warne, known to surprise the opposition with unconventional and often successful bowling changes, missing from action, it would be interesting to see how Rajasthan reacts to tight situations in the match.