Mumbai start as favourites against laggards Punjab

Mohali: Having notched up back-to-back victories with a win over Rajasthan Royals in their last game, Mumbai Indians will start as favourites when they take on laggards Kings XI Punjab in an IPL cricket match on Sunday.

Playing at home, Mumbai beat Rajasthan by eight runs, their third win in eight games, to keep their play-off hopes alive. They would now look to take revenge of their first leg loss to KXIP in Mumbai on April 12 when the two teams cross swords at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.

KXIP, on the other hand, remained at the bottom of the league table with four points and have been inflicted with back-to-back crushing defeats. The home side have often made changes in their playing eleven without much gain. Their batting has been let down in most of the matches.

Mumbai will look to fire on all cylinders right from the start unlike Friday when they scored 61 in their last four overs, thanks to a late charge from Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard.

Mitchell McClenaghan and Lasith Malinga, who were the pick among the bowlers in Friday’s game against Rajasthan, will look to exploit the traditional bouncy nature of the Mohali tracks.

For Jalandhar-based Harbhajan Singh, who plays domestic cricket for Punjab, Mohali ground is a familiar territory and it will be interesting to see whether he manages to have some local fans rooting for him.

Mumbai have been looking for a stable opening combination. Parthiv Patel has been opening in a few games with Lendl Simmons, but with just about 100 runs from six games to his credit, the diminutive Gujarat Ranji captain has not made the sort of impact the team’s think tank, led by chief coach Ricky Ponting would have liked.

It will have to be seen if the visiting team management would be tempted to ask skipper Rohit Sharma to revert to the opening slot to provide the solid start right at the beginning.

The morale of the KXIP players would be low after they suffered a comprehensive 9-wicket defeat against Delhi Daredevils on Friday. That came after the 97-run thrashing at the hands of Chennai Super Kings in Chennai.

Playing their first home game at Mohali on April 27, KXIP had lost by 20 runs to Sunrisers Hyderabad. The home side’s batting, considered their strength on paper, has failed miserably and Friday night it again touched a low with the side posting just 118 against Delhi.

The likes of Virender Sehwag, Shaun Marsh and Glenn Maxwell have not managed to make the kind of impact they were expected to ahead of the tournament. However, KXIP may do well to bring in Maxwell, who has not featured in the last couple of games.

KXIP’s bowlers too have been a huge letdown with pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson being the biggest flop. Bringing in medium pacer Shardul Thakur to play his maiden game in pressure situation on Friday against Delhi also did not help the KXIP’s cause.

Barring pacer Sandeep Sharma and left-arm spinner Axar Patel, the KXIP bowling has never looked threatening.


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