Buoyant after a morale-lifting win over hotshots Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians will start favourites against Kings XI Punjab in their Pepsi Indian Premier League clash at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.
Mumbai outclassed RCB by 58 runs last night to score their second straight win after two successive losses and got their campaign back on track ahead of their ninth game.
With 10 points in their kitty at the halfway stage, Mumbai are fourth following their third consecutive victory at home, which they have turned into an impregnable fortress.
For the second straight game on Saturday, captain Ricky Ponting dropped himself from the playing XI of Mumbai and stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma led his team to a second win.
Sharma had guided it past defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders in the previous away game.
On the other hand, Kings XI are coming into the game after being outsmarted by holders KKR at the Eden Gardens. A victory over MI, unlikely though it seems, would increase their points tally to 10.
The visitors have an under-performing retired Australian great at the helm like MI, but unlike Ponting have not yet taken the big decision to leave out Adam Gilchrist.
The wicket-keeper batsman is yet to provide the flying start which he was known for in his heydays and a tally of 94 runs in eight games has hurt his side’s chances.
The visitors bowling attack too looks a bit weak, especially in the spin department, barring the experienced Piyush Chawla who has taken only three wickets after figuring in eight games.
Praveen Kumar (9 wickets) and Azhar Mahmood (11 wickets) have been the main wicket-takers with their ability to move the ball in the air, and they would relish bowling in seaming conditions at the Wankhede.
Mumbai Indians : S Tendulkar, D Smith, D Karthik(wk), R Sharma, K Pollard, A Rayudu, M Johnson, L Malinga, H Singh, D Kulkarni, P Ojha
Kings XI Punjab : A Gilchrist(c & wk), M Singh, M Vohra, D Hussey, D Miller, G Singh, A Mahmood, P Chawla, P Kumar, B Bhatt/P Awana/ M Gony, H Singh
Players to watch out for:
Kieron Pollard : Scored a 16 ball 34 studded with three monstrous sixes and would be looking for a similar assault on Punjab. He is a panther in the field and a fan favourite.
Azhar Mahmood : His relentless assault on the stumps seems to be yielding results. He is bowling like a man on a mission and has been Kings XI Punjab’s most consistent bowler in IPL 2013 so far. Be it at the start of the innings or at the death, Azhar Mahmood has proved to be an effective bowler for all conditions.
Pitch : A batsman’s paradise. Run feast again on the cards. However, things could be different if Punjab bats first.