With two wins on the trot, the Mumbai Indians are starting to gather some steam and everyone in the Indian Premier League knows that it’s tough to beat them once they get going. And the unenvious task of stopping Rohit Sharma and his team on Wednesday falls to the third-placed team, Kings XI Punjab.
KXIP would have got a shot-in-the-arm after their six-wicket victory on Monday night over Sunrisers and they will be keen to continue playing solid cricket that they have displayed this season.
Mumbai have relied on the power-hitting for Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard to pull through despite being in tough situations while KXIP have seen Chris Gayle, KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal take turns in giving them solid starts.
The previous encounter between the two teams in Mohali had ended in a comprehensive eight-wicket win for Kings XI, but home conditions at the Wankhede Stadium are expected to favour MI.
MI have always been a confidence team and victories over defending champions Chennai Super Kings and last edition’s finalists Sunrisers Hyderabad in the last two games will have given them a huge mental boost. Significantly both these victories came thanks to MI’s bowling strength as they defended totals successfully.
MI don’t even have anyone in the top-20 run scorers’ list this season, an indication of the depth in their batting, and have a superior fast bowling attack bolstered by the inclusion of West Indian pacer, Alzarri Joseph, who blew away Sunrisers with his record-breaking haul of 6/12 in Hyderabad in their previous game.
The one glaring flaw in the Mumbai Indians bowling line-up so far has been the lack of sting in their spin bowling attack; so far this season, their spinners have taken only five wickets – the fewest among all teams. Rahul Chahar, however, has looked in good touch in the last couple of games.
If MI’s batting order can come to the party consistently, KXIP’s bowling might be put under a lot of pressure. KXIP skipper R Ashwin (seven wickets) has done well in five out of six games that the team has played but Sam Curran, Mohammed Shami and Murugan Ashwin will have to raise their games as well.
In 23 IPL matches, the Mumbai Indians and KXIP have matched up quite well with Mumbai winning 12 and KXIP 11. It continues to be a tight contest even at the Wankhede, with both sides winning 4 matches a piece.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma(c), Quinton de Kock(wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jason Behrendorff, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Alzarri Joseph, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan (wk), Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav.
Kings XI Punjab: Lokesh Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Andrew Tye, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Karun Nair, Moises Henriques, Varun Chakravarthi, Harpreet Brar, Simran Singh, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Hardus Viljoen, Ankit Rajpoot, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Agnivesh Ayachi.
(With PTI and iplt20.com inputs)