With no shortage of drama in their first two matches of the campaign, Kings XI Punjab will look to get their home campaign of the 12th edition of Indian Premier League underway when they take on Mumbai Indians in Mohali on Saturday.
It has been a roller-coaster ride for KXIP, having to endure a controversy involving their captain R Ashwin who Mankaded Rajasthan Royals batsman Jos Buttler in their first match, an act which has been deemed to be within the laws of the game but criticised by some as against spirit of cricket.
If that was not sufficient drama to last a season, in their second game against Kolkata Knight Riders, Ashwin’s team were penalised with a no-ball for not having four men in the 30-yard circle and Andre Russell, who’s stumps were rattled that very delivery, made full use of the reprieve to take the game away from KXIP. Later in the match, Ashwin was involved in another umpiring incident regarding an overthrow, that did not go down well with KKR’s players.
Ashwin and Co will now look to forget all the (arguably unnecessary) drama of the first two games and start afresh in their first match at the PCA Stadium on Saturday.
With the tournament still in its early stages and the two teams having won a game each, the balance is not tilted in anyone’s favour and the Saturday’s tie is expected to be a keenly fought one.
The two sides boast of bonafide star players in their line-up and each team will hope to be at their best when it matters.
KXIP, who are yet to win an IPL title, opened their campaign this season on a winning note against Rajasthan Royals. But, the match caught the headlines more for Ashwin’s mankading of Buttler that triggered a dramatic collapse for the Royals. Kings XI eventually won by 14 runs.
Focus on KL Rahul
That particular game also saw KXIP’s opener Chris Gayle in prime form as he blasted 79 off just 47 balls while Sarfaraz Khan remained unbeaten on 46 off 29, giving the Ashwin-led side a boost in the batting department. Against KKR, the KXIP lost by 28 runs after chasing a mammoth 219 for victory even though Mayank Agarwal and David Miller impressed with their batting.
Compared to their inconsistent bowling efforts, batting has been Punjab’s strong point, but opener KL Rahul is yet to hit his top form, managing just five runs from previous two outings, and he will be hoping to get back to his best in Mohali.
Andre Russell’s sensational 17-ball 48 and Robin Uthappa’s 67 not out and Nitish Rana’s 63 left KXIP bowlers in a daze. Even the likes of Ashwin and speedster Mohammed Shami did not have an answer to KKR’s blitzkrieg.
On the other hand, Mumbai Indians come into this match, having notched up a 6-run win over Royal Challengers Bangalore, with India pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah stamping his class. For Mumbai, Rohit Sharma (48 of 33) and Hardik Pandya’s 14-ball 32 stood out as they set up a target of 188 for RCB to chase.
MI are no strangers to drama as well this year. Mumbai were almost blown away by AB de Villiers’ 41-ball 70 not out, but the Rohit Sharma-led side won the match under controversial circumstances with the umpires failing to call Lasith Malinga final delivery a no-ball which left India and RCB captain Virat Kohli seething in anger.
Bumrah impressed in the game against RCB, returning with figures of 4-0-20-3, something most bowlers will envy in this format of the game.
Yuvraj Singh, who has started the season on a bright note with a sublime half-century against Delhi Capitals and a quick-fire 23 against RCB, will be eager to make a mark in Mohali, which happens to be his home ground.
The head-to-head favours the visitors with KXIP winning 10 compared Mumbai Indians’ 12 in their previous 22 meetings. Last season, the Mumbai Indians won both their matches against Kings XI Punjab.
KXIP won all three matches they played in Mohali in 2018 but Mumbai Indians have won their last four matches at the IS Bindra Stadium too; the last time MI lost a match at the venue was in 2011.
Kings XI Punjab: Ravichandran Ashwin (capt), Chris Gayle, Lokesh Rahul, Mohammed Shami, Mayank Agrawal, Karun Nair, Mujeeb Ur Rahman and David Miller, Sam Curran, Varun Chakaravarthy, Nicholas Pooran, Moises Henriques, Hardus Viljoen, Darshan Nalkande, Sarfaraz Khan, Arshdeep Singh, Agnivesh Ayachi, Harpreet Brar, Murugan Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Ankit Rajpoot, Mandeep Singh, Simran Singh.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (capt), Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Rahul Chahar, Ben Cutting, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ishan Kishan, Siddhesh Lad, Evin Lewis, Mayank Markande, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne, Jason Behrendorff, Anukul Roy, Rasikh Salam, Anmolpreet Singh, Barinder Sran, Aditya Tare, Suryakumar Yadav, Jayant Yadav and Quinton de Kock.
Match starts at 4 pm.