Struggling Punjab Kings face buoyant Mumbai threat

Struggling Punjab Kings face buoyant Mumbai threat

Struggling Punjab Kings face buoyant Mumbai threat

Buoyant after a morale-lifting win over hotshots Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians will start favourites against Kings XI Punjab in their Indian Premier League clash at the Wankhede stadium on Monday.

Mumbai outclassed RCB by 58 runs on Saturday 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, captain Ricky Ponting dropped himself from the playing eleven 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. Things seem to be falling into place for MI as an out-of-form Ponting has decided to sit out and has allowed talented West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Smith to take his place in the team as well as at the top of the batting order.

Smith has scored two fifties in the four games he has played so far and also delivered with the ball by taking two wickets in their comprehensive win over RCB that avenged their first-leg defeat in Bangalore in style.

The batting has a settled look now and delivered big time in the three home games by rattling up huge scores of 209 for five against the Delhi Daredevils, 194 for seven and 183 for three against Pune Warriors.

After surprisingly not giving a game to Dhawal Kulkarni, their home product who had a very good season during Mumbai’s 40th title triumph in the Ranji Trophy, MI included him in the eleven on Saturday and he contributed with a three-wicket burst.

With Smith and Harbhajan Singh, who delivered the knockout blow by sending back danger man Chris Gayle, also coming to the party, MI did not even need to use the left-arm slow skills of Pragyan Ojha.

The bowling attack, in which Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson also pose a danger to the opposition, appears well-rounded and would present a big challenge to Punjab on the bouncy track that is the hallmark of this venue.

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 inclusion of Mandeep Singh, who has the ability to clear the ropes with nonchalance and has scored 219 runs in eight matches, as Gilchrist’s partner has certainly given a better look to the batting.

With another experienced Aussie campaigner, David Hussey (165 runs in 8 matches), too not among the runs, the batting has struggled.

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