IPL Preview: Mumbai face Punjab in must-win match
Mumbai: Mumbai Indians will be desperate for a win against Kings XI Punjab to keep their play-off hopes alive when they square-off in a crucial Indian Premier League (IPL) tie at the Wankhede stadium here on Wednesday.
Just when Mumbai's dream of making it to the final four was on the verge of getting shattered, the Rohit Sharma-led brigade came up with a spirited show to register a hat-trick of wins before faltering against Rajasthan Royals in their previous game.
Mumbai have to win both their remaining two matches to keep their chances alive for advancing to the play-offs.
With 10 points, the three-time champions are placed at the sixth spot in the IPL points table while their opponents are a spot ahead with 12 points in their kitty.
Mumbai will once again rely on opener Suryakumar Yadav, who has been consistent with the bat, amassing 473 runs from 12 innings.
The other opener Evin Lewis also got back his touch in the last match, hitting a 42-ball 60. However, Mumbai's middle order failed miserably including skipper Rohit.
Barring his match-winning knock against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Rohit has failed to live up to the expectations this season. The Pandya brothers — Hardik and Krunal — will also need to dish out something special if they are to stand any chance of making it to the final four.
In the bowling department, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik and left-arm pacer Mitchell McClenaghan will have to bowl accurately to get rid of the likes of the in-form Lokesh Rahul and Chris Gayle.
On the other hand, despite being a place ahead, Punjab lag behind Mumbai in net run-rate. The Ravichandran Ashwin-led side, who started their IPL campaign on a rousing note, faltered in the business end of the league, losing five of their last six games.
Punjab suffered their worst defeat of the season in their last outing when Royal Challengers Bangalore hammered them by 10 wickets, a game where both the batsmen and bowlers succumbed before Kohli's men.
Punjab's batting mostly relies on openers Rahul and Gayle as the duo have accumulated 558 and 350 runs respectively.
The Punjab openers have been a major reason behind their success as the two have handed a perfect start to their side on several occasions in this year's edition.
Karun Nair has been inconsistent with 247 runs so far, while veteran Yuvraj Singh and Mayank Agarwal are yet to make their presence felt in the middle-order.
Punjab will be relieved by the fact that Aaron Finch returned to form with a 34 and 26 during the loss to Kolkata Knight Riders and RCB, respectively.