Kings XI Punjab will have a tough task as they look to stop their losing streak when they take on Mumbai Indians at Indore on Thursday, April 20.
It is still early days in the tournament but as the teams jostle for places in the top-four, this match promises to be of the highest intensity.
It’s a cliché but we will say it – Kings XI Punjab need to win this match at all costs. Having started the tournament with wins over Rising Pune Supergiants and Royal Challengers Bangalore, there was silent optimism that this season would see them challenge for play-offs places.
But that optimism has given way to increased worry now as three straight defeats to Kolkata Knight Riders, Delhi Daredevils and Sunrisers Hyderabad put them closer to the bottom than the top.
Manan Vohra solved one problem for Glenn Maxwell with an innings that almost won them the match over Sunrisers. But inconsistent returns from the batsmen is a concern. Bowling looks a little sharper with the three Sharmas – Sandeep, Mohit and Ishant – settling into good rhythm. But the crucial link to take them to victories is still missing from their play.
No wonder that the Mumbai Indians are gunning for the top. With four wins out of five matches, it’s only net run-rate that separates them from Kolkata Knight Riders at the top.
After starting with a loss to Rising Pune Supergiants, Mumbai went on a winning spree defeating Kolkata Knight Riders, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Gujarat Lions.
What’s working for Rohit Sharma is the form of youngster Nitish Rana who is turning heads with his striking prowess. After a long time, Kieron Pollard too looks to have gained a bit of form. Bowling is strong as always with Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah and Harbhajan Singh manning the lines.
Kings XI lost to Sunrisers very narrowly but that shouldn’t mask their problems with the bat. Amla’s poor form could give an opening to Martin Guptill while Marcus Stoinis may also get a look in.
With Mitchell McCleneghan settling into a rhythm, Mumbai looks to have nailed their first-choice XI. With Parthiv Patel struggling for runs, they can opt to give the gloves to Jos Buttler and recall Saurabh Tiwary.
Last season both sides won away from home. Parthiv and Stoinis have happy memories from those games but it remains to be seen if they take part in this fixture.
Mumbai’s run of victories make them hot favorites for this encounter. At odds of $1.74 (Sportsbet
), the visitors have a better chance of taking maximum points. Kings XI are offered odds of $2.18 (TopBetta
) but that looks a high-risk punt at this moment.
Nitish Rana is in the middle of such purple form that you can’t take him off your list for top scorers. At odds of $5.50 (bet365
), the stylish left-hander is a good option to be Mumbai Indians’ top scorer.
Harbhajan will have a lot of spin-suspect batsmen in this Kings XI line-up to target. Will the wily off-spinner get to take wickets in buckets? Back him at odds of $5.00 (bet365
) to be Mumbai’s best bowler.