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By Shrikant Shankar
May 2, 2014
Mumbai Indians (MI) play Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2014 on May 3. IPL 7 has already arrived in India after its first-leg in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with the first match between Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). Now, Mumbai play at the historic Wankhede Stadium and will be hoping that a change in the setting would help them kick-on in IPL 7. The defending champions have lost all their five matches so far. They face a Punjab side that has won all five of their matches. Then there is the added element of many players, rejected by Mumbai, who are shining with Punjab.
Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson and to a certain extent Rishi Dhawan have impressed with varying levels for Punjab. Maxwell has been the Player of the IPL, till at least the UAE-leg finished. He was sparingly used by Mumbai en route their title success last season. Johnson starred for Mumbai, so, his rejection baffled more people. Dhawan was an unsung hero and he could have added a bit more quality in Mumbai’s bowling. All three of them would love to bring their best games against Mumbai. The pitch at Wankhede Stadium will be batsmen friendly, as it always is in the IPL. One can expect the likes of Maxwell and David Miller going berserk.
Punjab have a stable side and would not want to make unnecessary changes, unless needed. They proved they are the side to beat in all their five matches. Punjab chased down massive targets in back-to-back matches to get their season started. They then defended a big total. That was followed by a successful defence of a low target. In their last match, Punjab chased down a low target. So, already in five matches, they have won in four different ways. That also means they are not depended on a few players like Maxwell and Miller. Sandeep Sharma has been impressive with the ball in the last two matches. Virender Sehwag and Cheteshwar Pujara are a solid opening pair. Pujara is unspectacular in the T20 format, but can play the sheet anchor role which would help the others to score quickly around him.
Captain George Bailey is an experienced player and is the right person to lead this side. He too is a very dangerous batsman. Their bowling is good with Lakshmipathy Balaji, Johnson, Dhawan, Maxwell, Sandeep and surprise package Akshar Patel. Mumbai came back to some life against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the last match in UAE, but still ended with a loss. This is their worst run in IPL history. They rode their luck in IPL 2013 with a 100 per cent winning record at Wankhede Stadium. Maybe their mentality will change while playing at home.
The fans in UAE may have enjoyed the whole IPL experience, but they are not as demanding as the Wankhede faithful. Mumbai were lacklustre in their first four matches and the crowd at Wankhede will not tolerate that. Mumbai made some changes to their line-up against Hyderabad. They brought in Ben Dunk in place of Michael Hussey. Although it didn’t exactly work, Dunk looked in better touch than Hussey. Captain Rohit Sharma should open as he did against Hyderabad. Corey Anderson has not lived up to the high billing, but he might be given another chance.
Kieron Pollard played a magnificent innings of 78 off 48 deliveries against Hyderabad and Mumbai would hope he carries that form ahead. Ambati Rayudu has also been unspectacular, but is Mumbai’s most consistent batsman in IPL 7. The bowling department has been better for Mumbai. Zaheer Khan, Lasith Malinga and Harbhajan Singh have bowled very well. But Pragyan Ojha’s form is a worry. The only problem is that there are not many quality spinners to replace him. Punjab are the form side heading into this contest, but playing as an away team at the Wankhede Stadium is as hard as it gets. And Mumbai will be hoping to change their fortunes staring with this match.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Aaditya Tare (wk), Michael Hussey, Sushant Marathe, Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Corey Anderson, Ben Dunk, Josh Hazlewood, Harbhajan Singh, Pragyan Ojha, Shreyas Gopal, Jalaj Saxena, CM Gautam (wk), Krishmar Santokie, Marchant de Lange, Jasprit Bumrah, Apoorv Wankhede, Pawan Suyal.
Kings XI Punjab: George Bailey (c), David Miller, Manan Vohra, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn Maxwell, Virender Sehwag, Rishi Dhawan, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Shaun Marsh, Cheteshwar Pujara, Beuran Hendricks, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Thisara Perera, Gurkeerat Mann Singh, Murali Kartik, Sandeep Sharma, Mandeep Singh, Akshar Patel, Parvinder Awana, Shardul Thakur, Anureet Singh, Shivam Sharma, Karanveer Singh.
Time: 16:00 IST | 10:30 GMT
(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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