Both Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians are prepared to play their penultimate game of the league stage in this season, and a defeat will be very costly for both teams.
Mumbai Indians now sit sixth on the league table, with 10 points from 12 games. Winning against Kings XI will help them jump two places to be at the coveted fourth spot. But, a loss from this fixture will ensure their elimination from the tournament.
The visitors, on the other hand, have 12 points from as many matches and are currently on the fifth position. A victory against Rohit Sharma and co will be enough for them to leapfrog Rajasthan Royals at the fourth place, while a big-margin-win may even help them replace Kolkata Knight Riders from the third spot in the league log. Naturally, huge excitements will be hovering around the stadium on Wednesday night.
Kings XI Punjab are having a bad run at the moment. They have now lost three matches in a row and are in dire need to get a win before playing the final league game. In the most recent outing, it was a disastrous performance from the Punjab batting lineup. Against a disciplined Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling, they got bundled out for a paltry 88. In response, Parthiv Patel and Virat Kohli took Bangalore to victory within 9 overs, and got a well-earned 10-wicket victory.
Mumbai Indians, on the contrary, enjoyed a decent turn of events in their favour. After losing five of their first seven games, they won the next three to put them back in the race to the playoffs. However, the winning streak came to a halt during their last match. Batting first against Rajasthan Royals, thanks to decent contributions from openers Evin Lewis and Suryakumar Yadav, and through some late firepower from Hardik Pandya, the Indians raised 168 on the board. But, the Royals opener Jos Buttler proved too hot to handle that night. His 94 not out was more than enough for Rajasthan to win the fixture convincingly.
Mumbai will depend heavily on the opening duo of Lewis and Yadav. The latter especially knows the Wankhede Stadium in and out, and he is in a very good form at the moment. Sharma coming at number 3 has also stabled their batting order, while Hardik and Ben Cutting’s slog hitting have added significant strength to the team combination. Only point of concern is the spot of JP Duminy who has not provided much support either with bat or ball, and the team management should look forward to switch him for another power-hitter Kieron Pollard or for a bowler like Mustafizur Rahman.
Ravichandran Ashwin has been a good captain in this IPL, but his team-picking has not been great of late. The squad has also struggled due to injuries, the latest one being that of Mujeeb Ur Rahman. The talented offspinner was in extraordinary form before hurting his hand against Knight Riders. He missed the last game, but on Wednesday, his return is going to be crucial for the away side. Marcus Stoinis will have to sit out if Mujeeb is fit to play. The team otherwise should remain unchanged.
Mumbai Indians: Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, Rohit Sharma (C), Ishan Kishan (Wk), Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah, Mayank Markande.
Kings XI Punjab: Chris Gayle, KL Rahul (Wk), Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Aaron Finch, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin, Andrew Tye, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Mohit Sharma, Ankit Rajpoot.
Do you think Mumbai can win this do-or-die fixture? Comment below!