19 April, Indore: On a roll with four consecutive victories, two-time champions Mumbai Indians would look to continue the winning streak when they take on Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League match, here on Thursday.
Having won four out of the five matches they played so far, Mumbai Indians are placed second with eight points and would certainly start as favourites against Kings XI Punjab, who have managed to win just two of their five games.
Even though Mumbai’s top order is yet to click, the middle and lower order have more than made up for the poor starts.
Skipper Rohit Sharma, who did not have an ideal start to the tournament, made a strong comeback in the previous match against Gujarat Lions with an unbeaten 40 off 29 deliveries, while Kieron Pollard continued with his fine run, scoring a quickfire 23-ball 39.
Young Nitish Rana has been a consistent contributer for Mumbai this season. He chipped in with a brilliant half- century in the last match to enable Mumbai toppled Gujarat Lions by six wickets.
In fact, one of the biggest positives for Mumbai has been the form of the Pandya brothers — Hardik and Krunal. The duo have come up with significant all-round performances.
Come tomorrow, Mumbai would look to their batsmen to shine again and dominate the opponents.
Harbhajan Singh has been fantastic in the powerplay overs, while Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan have also been among wickets. McClenaghan returned with impressive figures of two for 24 to help the team restrict Gujarat to 176 for four in their last game.
Kings XI Punjab, on the other hand, will have their task cut out against a strong Mumbai outfit.
Despite starting their campaign with back-to-back victories, Kings XI slipped in the next three games and would now be desperate to get back to winning ways.
Kings XI have some dangerous batsmen, especially the three ‘Ms’ — skipper Glenn Maxwell, David Miller and Eoin Morgan — besides Hashim Amla who can pile up runs but none of them clicked in the last three outings.
The lone battle was fought by Manan Vohra in the last match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, as he scored a fabulous 50 -ball 90 but Kings XI still lost by five runs while chasing a modest 160-run target due to lack of support from the other end.
Kings XI would desperately want the big names to stand up and make their presence felt against Mumbai tomorrow.
Their bowling unit, which includes a reliable Mohit Sharma, experienced Ishant Sharma and talented Axar Patel, needs to fire in unison.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (capt), Parthiv Patel, Tim Southee, Kieron Pollard, Jos Buttler, Ambati Rayudu, Mitchell McClenaghan, Nitish Rana, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson, Lendl Simmons, Vinay Kumar, Saurabh Tiwary, Karn Sharma, Krishnappa Gowtham, Siddhesh Lad, Nicholas Pooran, Shreyas Gopal, Jitesh Sharma, Deepak Punia, Jagadeesha Suchith, Kulwant Khejroliya.
Kings XI Punjab: Glenn Maxwell (capt), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Hashim Amla, Shaun Marsh, Armaan Jaffer, Martin Guptill, Eoin Morgan, Rinku Singh, Sandeep Sharma, Arman Jaffer, Anureet Singh, Mohit Sharma, KC Cariappa, Pradeep Sahu, Swapnil Singh, T Natrajan, Matt Henry, Varun Aaron, Axar Patel, Marcus Stoinis, Gurkeerat Mann, Rahul Tewatia, Darren Sammy, Wriddhiman Saha, Nikhil Naik, Ishant Sharma.