Ravichandran Ashwin
Punjab captain R Ashwin has been in the limelight (BCCI Photo)

Punjab have had an eventful start to their Indian T20 League. In their season opener, their win over Rajasthan was overshadowed by ‘mankading’, something which continues to be a hot topic of debate that has polarised opinions. Their second match, a defeat to Kolkata, also made headlines with Punjab committing a fielding error that resulted in Andre Russell being given a life despite being bowled by Mohammed Shami. Russell went on to play a blistering innings that proved to be the difference between the two teams at Eden Gardens.

While the outside world focuses on their errors, Punjab will be duly interested in the promise their early performances have shown. They won a contest against inaugural champions from what seemed to be a difficult position. Their batsmen have been in good touch, but the bowlers have been expensive across the two matches. They now host Mumbai for their first home match of the season.

Mumbai started their campaign with a defeat before a thrilling six-run win against Bangalore on Thursday night. Like Punjab, they also snatched a win from a losing position thanks to Jasprit Bumrah who gave a masterclass in death-overs bowling. Although the win was also marred by an umpiring howler.

Mumbai missed the services of Lasith Malinga against Delhi as they were blown away by Rishabh Pant. The Sri Lankan returned to the playing XI on Thursday night to defend 16 runs in the final over against Bangalore and is expected to be available for the entirety of the season.

Both teams have made similar starts but the visiting Mumbai will have the confidence having won their previous game.

What: Match 9, Punjab vs Mumbai

When: March 30 (Saturday)

Where: Punjab Cricket Association Stadium, Mohali

Time: 4 pm IST

Weather: Mostly sunny with a maximum of 34 degrees Celsius

Teams

Punjab

Captain Ravichandran Ashwin made four changes to the playing XI that won against Rajasthan. All four put up decent performances, although Varun Chakravarthy showed some nerves and was taken for 25 runs in his first over on debut before finally settling in. They should give the mystery spinner another chance to prove himself despite the early jitters. Their batsmen have been in good touch expect for opener KL Rahul who has managed five runs across the two matches. It’s unlikely that he’ll be dropped so early.

Other teams have talked about sticking to the same playing XI to bring in consistency. Ashwin should take a hint. No need for wholesale changes again.

Probable XI: KL Rahul, Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Varun Chakravarthy, Mohammed Shami, Andrew Tye

Mumbai

The availability of Malinga meant Mumbai dropped Ben Cutting from their playing XI and also brought in spinner Mayank Markande for teenage pacer Rasikh Salam. M Chinnaswamy was expected to dish out a belter but Rohit Sharma should be happy with the way his bowlers stepped in the death overs (read Bumrah). He should also keep faith in the same XI.

Probable XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah

Head-to-head record

Matches: 22

Won by Punjab: 10

Won by Mumbai: 12