Mumbai Indians have ticked all the boxes and are a win away from topping the table. At the bottom of the heap, Punjab are struggling with both batting and bowling.
The IPL 2020 has panned out remarkably different for the Mumbai Indians and the Kings XI Punjab since their first clash of this season. Both teams came into the match after losing a tied game in the Super Over. MI not only learnt their lesson from the close game to defeat KXIP by 48 runs but also put their campaign on the top gear. KL Rahul’s side lost that match and also the plot, it seems. They are languishing at the bottom of the points table with just two wins from eight games.
David Vs Goliath
Normally, IPL matches are not lopsided as most teams are balanced and it is anybody’s game but as Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab meet in Dubai for the second game of October 18, the contest couldn’t be more uneven. Neither history nor present form favours Punjab, who haven’t beaten Mumbai even once in the last five of their encounters. If they manage to do the unthinkable on Sunday night against the four-time IPL champions, it will be the biggest upset of the tournament.
Team vs individual
If Mumbai’s success is the outcome of teamwork, Punjab unfortunately hugely depend on a mighty contribution from an individual to win a game.
Only Mumbai could have shrugged off the lack of form of its biggest match-winner Jasprit Bumrah in the first five games, who was the most expensive bowler of the team with an economy rate of 8.8. The team’s faith in him has paid off and the Mumbai pace spearhead Bumrah got 5 wickets at an economy of 5.7 in the last three games.
Similarly, opener Quinton de Kock after managing just 48 runs in four games has found form and has taken the attack to the opposition, scoring a blistering 221 runs in the last four innings.
In contrast, Punjab’s batting begins and ends with the opening pair of Rahul (448 runs) and Mayank Agarwal (382 runs), the top two run-getters of the tournament. In contrast, all Mumbai batsmen except Krunal Pandya have scored more than 150 runs this season.
The tale of 2 Chrises
MI have used only 13 players so far. They have played James Pattinson ahead of Nathan Coulter Nile and may even rest Trent Boult and give a game to his Kiwi mate Mitchell McClenaghan against Punjab.
Punjab, on the other hand, have been hesitant in including the great Chris Gayle in the Playing XI. Gayle made his presence felt when he played the last match. The Kings XI have tried 20 players, the most by any team, and that speaks about a cluttered mindset best illustrated by the frequent inclusion and exclusion of all-rounder Chris Jordan. The England pacer was very effective in the last match and should have been persisted with.
Bowling at the death
The Kings XI’s leak runs in death overs and MI batsmen Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard are at their destructive best in the last overs of their innings. Punjab bowler’s economy rate of 14 (13.60) runs is the worst for any team this season. It will take something special from Punjab to break Mumbai’s momentum.
Their only consolation is that Mumbai haven’t won a game in Dubai yet but that is unlikely to bother Rohit Sharma’s side.
Mumbai Indians: 1 Rohit Sharma (captain), 2 Quinton de Kock (wicketkeeper), 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Ishan Kishan, 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 9 Trent Boult, 10 Rahul Chahar, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Kings XI Punjab: 1 KL Rahul (captain, wicketkeeper), 2 Mayank Agarwal, 3 Chris Gayle, 4 Nicholas Pooran, 5 Glenn Maxwell, 6 Deepak Hooda, 7 Chris Jordan, 8 M Ashwin, 9 Ravi Bishnoi, 10 Mohammed Shami, 11 Arshdeep Singh
(Vimal Kumar has covered multiple cricket world cups and Rio Olympics in the last two decades. The author of Sachin: Cricketer Of The Century and The Cricket Fanatic’s Essential Guide can be reached @Vimalwa on Twitter)Follow Moneycontrol’s full coverage of IPL 2020 here