Mumbai look for turnaround at home

Mumbai look for turnaround at home

Mumbai look for turnaround at home

Title-holders Mumbai Indians would be keen to end their dismal five-match losing streak but the task is easier said than done as they will clash against table toppers Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League match at the Wankhede Stadium here on Saturday.

The stadium was a mini fortress which could not be breached in eight attempts last year as MI went all the way to clinch the title for the first time.

With the IPL action shifting to India after the initial phase was held in the UAE, MI would be eager to turn around their floundering fortunes after suffering five straight defeats spread over Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah.

Kings XI Punjab, on the other hand, would be equally earnest to ensure that their five-match winning run in the UAE is not snapped by last year’s champions.

Punjab have batted, bowled and fielded well in the first phase of the T20 League and another victory at the cost of the struggling MI would enhance their last four qualifying hopes which are already bright.

It has been Mumbai’s batting, more than their bowling, which has caused their slump thus far in the tournament.

MI have tried out a few opening combinations and failed miserably with captain Rohit Sharma, his Mumbai Ranji Trophy team-mate Aditya Tare, former Australia cricketer Mike Hussey and new signing Ben Dunk, also an Aussie, all failing to get going.

The middle order too has performed dismally barring the last game against Sun Risers Hyderabad at Dubai when Kieron Pollard at last found form with a blistering 78 off 48 balls with six sixes and three fours. But the powerfully built West Indian all-rounder’s stupendous effort went in vain as MI slumped to a 15-run defeat chasing SRH’s challenging score of 172.

For MI to get their floundering campaign on track, all the top order batsmen need to find form quickly.

While MI batting has been a big let-down, the bowlers have fared only slightly better with Sri Lanka’s World T20 winning captain Lasith Malinga (8 wickets), Zaheer Khan (8) and former captain Harbhajan Singh (2 wickets with economical bowling) being the pick of the lot.

New Zealand’s all rounder Corey Anderson has performed miserably with both bat and ball while spinner Pragyan Ojha has also been disappointing but will be happy to bowl on the Wankhede wicket that normally assists both spin and pace.

The trouble with MI is that their bench strength is not great and they would be hoping that new inclusion Lendl Simmons of the West Indies justifies his signing.

Punjab, on the other hand, are sitting pretty as the only unbeaten team in the league in the UAE leg.

For this top position, they are indebted to Australian Glenn Maxwell who has struck two brilliant 90s and another 89 to lead their batting might.

Maxwell (300 runs from five games) and David Miller (155) helped Punjab get a flying start in their opening two games against former two-time champions Chennai Super Kings and 2008 winners Rajasthan Royals.

When they failed later, Virender Sehwag chipped in with two 30-plus scores in low-scoring games. Captain George Bailey, also a fine T20 batsman, has not been required to do much.