Hosts Mumbai Indians will fancy beating a floundering Kings XI Punjab when both sides face-off in a must-win match in the Indian Premier League in Mumbai on Wednesday.
After a string of losses initially, Mumbai’s hopes of making it to the last four were revived after three straight wins, but their eight-wicket defeat against Rajasthan Royals on Sunday has again put them on the back foot.
While Mumbai are in sixth position with five wins from 12 games, a stuttering KXIP have slumped to the fifth spot with 12 points having suffered their fourth defeat on Monday in five games.
Mumbai, with an excellent net run-rate, need to put behind the humiliation by the Royals and come out with all guns blazing against an equally jittery KXIP, who have lost their way in the second half of the tournament after starting strongly.
Mumbai’s middle order was yet again exposed in the last game when their batsmen, including skipper Rohit Sharma, failed miserably. Only Suryakumar Yadav has been among the runs on a consistent basis and MI would be pleased with the return to form of West Indian opener Evin Lewis.
But Mumbai need the other batters down the order, especially skipper Rohit to contribute big. Save his match-winning knock against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Mumbai, Rohit has failed to perform to his potential and MI need him in cracking form.
MI’s bowling too has been a worry. The likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik and left-arm pacer Mitchell McClenaghan will have to bowl cleverly to stop the rampaging KL Rahul and Chris Gayle from scoring big runs.
All three may come up with a short-ball attack on the rival openers as Umesh Yadav showed with great success on Monday for RCB. The role of leggie Mayank Markande (14 wickets) will also be crucial along with that of Krunal Pandya.
KXIP too have slumped in the latter half of the season and need to improve in all departments.
It has been a story similar to Mumbai’s for KXIP whose openers – Rahul and Gayle – were giving them good starts until last night when both succumbed to Yadav’s short balls.
Rahul, who has been in the form of his life, was dismissed for 21, while Gayle, who has hit a blistering century this season, also failed and the misfiring middle order could not rescue the team which was shot out for 88, its lowest total of the season.
The hand injury to leg-spinner Mujeeb-Ur-Rahman was a big blow to Punjab. In his likely absence, Ashwin and Axar Patel need to take up the responsibility to take wickets in the middle overs.
Mumbai Indians won: 11
Kings XI Punjab won: 10
MI have four of the last five matches between the two teams.
Stats and trivia
- Kings XI Punjab lost only one of their first six matches in this season. In the next six matches, they have managed to win only one.
- Kings XI Punjab’s total of 88 against Royal Challengers Bangalore was the second lowest in IPL 2018 after Mumbai Indians’ 87 against Sunrisers Hyderabad.
- KXIP succumbed to pace in their last match against RCB while Mumbai has led with pace this season, with Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah and Mitchell McClenaghan taking 43 wickets between them.
- Punjab’s Andrew Tye has a firm grip on the Purple Cap so far with 20 wickets, however Mumbai’s Hardik Pandya is a close second on 18 and can take over in the match.
“Go back to the first three or four games of the season that we lost in the last over. Had we won two of those games before the last over, we wouldn’t be having the same conversation. We would be sitting comfortably with 14 to 16 points.”
— MI all-rounder Ben Cutting
“We aren’t one of the top champion sides to be very honest, we are one of those sides that punched above our weight in the first half of the competition.”
— KXIP captain R Ashwin
Kings XI Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Chris Gayle, Aaron Finch, KL Rahul, Karun Nair, Mohit Sharma, Mujeeb ur Rahman, Barinder Sran, David Miller, Andrew Tye, Ankit Rajpoot, Axar Patel, Akshdeep Nath, Mayank Agarwal, Manoj Tiwary, Yuvraj Singh, Marcus Stoinis, Mayank Dagar.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Mayank Markande, Mitchell McLenaghan, Mustafizur Rahaman, Jasprit Bumrah, Akila Dananjaya, Ben Cutting, JP Duminy, Rahul Chahar, Sharad Lumba, Adam Milne, Siddhesh Lad, Md Nidheesh, Mohsin Khan, Anukul Roy, Pradeep Sangwan, Tajinder Singh, Aditya Tare, Saurabh Tiwary.
With inputs from PTI and IPLT20.com.