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As Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) prepare to host Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014, their sights will be set on the play-offs. Punjab have already qualified and their aim will be to finish at the top of the IPL 7 Points Table. Mumbai need a win to keep their fading hopes alive of making it into the play-offs. Shrikant Shankar highlights the key battles that could determine the winner from the match.
Virender Sehwag vs Krishmar Santokie
Virender Sehwag has had a decent return for his new team Kings XI Punjab. He has scored 280 runs in 11 matches in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014. While he has shown glimpses of what he can do, Sehwag is well past his prime. He will not face Lasith Malinga, so, his job will be a little easier. He will most likely face Krishmar Santokie — another bowler who has a slingy action. But let’s not kid ourselves here. Santokie does not have that ‘extra burst of pace’ that Malinga has. If Sehwag does try and attack too much, he might end up gifting his wicket to the left-arm medium bowler.
Glenn Maxwell vs Shreyas Gopal
Mumbai Indians’ old boy Glenn Maxwell could not produce the goods against his former employers in the previous match. That eventually culminated in Mumbai’s first win in IPL 2014 and Punjab’s first loss. Revenge is a strong word used in sport, but Punjab will be looking for something of the sort at their home ground at Mohali. Maxwell is ‘the’ stand-out player of IPL 7. He has scored 531 runs from 11 matches at a frightening strike-rate of 195.22. Up against him will be young leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal. Three things are possible here – 1. Maxwell sends Gopal into oblivion; 2. Maxwell sends Gopal into oblivion and then gets out; 3. Gopal capitalises on Maxwell’s intent and dismisses him early. For Mumbai’s sake, they would hope the third probability would occur.
David Miller vs Harbhajan Singh
David Miller has just been away from the limelight due to Maxwell’s brilliance. But if the left-hander decides to outshine his Australian contemporary, Mumbai better watch out. At Mohali, Mumbai don’t have a good record. But what they do have is Harbhajan Singh, who basically grew up there. Harbhajan’s ability to turn the ball away from Miller could come in useful. Harbhajan doesn’t mind getting hit for the odd six, as he would believe in having the last laugh.
Rishi Dhawan vs Rohit Sharma
Another of Mumbai’s former players in the Punjab squad. Rishi Dhawan has gone on quietly about his business. He has taken nine wickets and had an economy-rate of under eight in a crazy IPL 2014 season. He will probably bowl against Rohiit Sharma — Mumbai’s captain and best player. Rohit has been in impressive form and if he gets going, there are not many bowlers who can stop him. Dhawan is solid without being spectacular and Rohit could capitalise on that.
Akshar Patel vs Kieron Pollard
It is surprising that an unheard player in Akshar Patel has been one of Punjab’s key players. He is very economical with his left-am spin and proved himself useful with the bat with an unbeaten 42 in the previous match. He is will be up against Kieron Pollard. The West Indies all-rounder is highly expensive with the ball, but makes up for that with his power-hitting and world-class fielding. Pollard’s mishits sail over the boundary and he also takes catches which will go down in cricketing history.
Beuran Hendricks vs Lendl Simmons
Mumbai will most likely not face another old boy in Mitchell Johnson. His replacement in Beuran Hendricks, did well against Delhi Daredevils and took three wickets. in an unlikely twist of events, he will bowl to Lendl Simmons. The West Indies batsman has proved to be Mumbai’s best opener in IPL 7. He is not flash, but has scored vital runs at a surprisingly quick pace.
Sandeep Sharma vs Michael Hussey
Sandeep Sharma has been one of the bright prospects in this season’s IPL. The right-arm swing bowler has taken 17 wickets in only nine matches. he swings the ball away from the left-handers with ease. This will cause Michael Hussey certain issues. Hussey has not been in good form, despite scoring a half-century in his previous match. This contest should be interesting as Sandeep would be looking to add Hussey to his list of high-profile wickets, which includes Chris Gayle twice.
(Shrikant Shankar is a writer/reporter at CricketCountry.com. Previously he has done audio commentary for various matches involving India, Indian Premier League and Champions League Twenty20 for ESPNSTAR.com. You can follow him on Twitter @Shrikant_23)
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