A dominant Mumbai Indians will aim to keep their winning run at home intact when they take on the Kings XI Punjab in the 41st match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 cricket tournament on Monday at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai.
Riding high on confidence after the thrashing they handed to the IPL 2013 table-toppers Royal Challengers Bangalore by 58 runs on Saturday, the Mumbai Indians will indeed be favourites against the wobbly Kings XI Punjab side.
The inclusion of Caribbean cricketer Dwayne Smith has bolstered their firepower in both batting and bowling departments, as Smith has scored two consecutive half-centuries coming in place of the struggling regular captain Ricky Ponting and has even contributed with the ball.
Smith scored a quickfire 50 against the Royal Challengers and took two key wickets to guide his side to a memorable win, and he will hope to continue his good all-round show in the games to come.
Sachin Tendulkar’s brisk start and the form of the middle-order batsmen such as stand-in captain Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik and Kieron Pollard makes Mumbai Indians’ batting firepower lot more dangerous as compared to the Kings XI Punjab’s.
To maintain the winning combination and Smith’s all-round and consistent performance, it is likely that Ponting will opt out of this game as well.
The Mumbai bowlers have impressed with Dhawal Kulkarni proving his selection right in the clash against Bangalore, wherein he took three wickets while senior tweaker Harbhajan Singh too chipped in with two important scalps.
Mumbai are placed at the fourth spot in the IPL 2013 points table and they will aim to consolidate their position in the tournament with a win over the Kings XI Punjab.
However, Mumbai will have to guard against complacency as the Punjab side have a few big match winners in their ranks. The form of David Miller and Mandeep Singh makes their batting look strong, especially when their star batsman and captain Adam Gilchrist is struggling with the bat.
Praveen Kumar and Azhar Mahmood are Punjab’s main bowlers with nine and 11 wickets respectively in the tournament and the presence of the experienced Piyush Chawla makes their bowling department lethal.
David Hussey will once again be expected to drop the anchor and make a platform for others to score quickly, as though the likes of Manan Vohra, Mandeep and Gurkeerat Singh Mann have shown promise, they have failed to convert starts into big score.
The biggest worry for the Punjab side apart from their batting would be their fielding, as a sloppy show against the defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders proved costly and they lost the game by a huge margin of six wickets.
Kings XI Punjab will have to put a much improved batting show against the Mumbai Indians, who have the likes of Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson, Harbhajan and many others. Mumbai Indians are indeed hot favourites going into the clash.
Kings XI Punjab (Probable): Adam Gilchrist (c & wk), Mandeep Singh, Manan Vohra, David Miller, David Hussey, Gurkeerat Singh, Azhar Mahmood, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Harmeet Singh, Bharghav Bhatt
Time: 2000 IST | 14.30 GMT
(Devarchit Varma is a cricket fanatic who finds nothing more exciting to do than to write, watch or talk about the sport. Having played the game at club and college level, he now pursues his passion as a scribe)