Mumbai Indians

With 10 points in their kitty at the halfway stage, Mumbai Indians are fourth following their third consecutive victory at home, which they have turned into an impregnable fortress © IANS

By S S Ramaswamy

Mumbai: Apr 28, 2013

Buoyant after a morale-lifting win over hotshots Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians will start favourites against Kings XI Punjab in their Pepsi Indian Premier League clash at the Wankhede Stadium.

Mumbai outclassed RCB by 58 runs last night to score their second straight win after two successive losses and got their campaign back on track ahead of their ninth game.

With 10 points in their kitty at the halfway stage, Mumbai are fourth following their third consecutive victory at home, which they have turned into an impregnable fortress.

They will remain in that position going into the contest against the struggling KXIP irrespective of today’s two games elsewhere.

For the second straight game yesterday, captain Ricky Ponting dropped himself from the playing XI of Mumbai and stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma led his team to a second win.

Sharma had guided it past defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders in the previous away game.

Things seem to be falling into place for MI once the out-of-form Ponting has taken the decision to sit out and allowed talented West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Smith to take his place in the team as well as at the top of the batting order.

Smith has scored two fifties in the four games he has played so far and also delivered with the ball by taking two wickets in yesterday’s comprehensive win over RCB that avenged their first-leg defeat in Bangalore in style.

The batting has a settled look now and delivered big time in the three home games by rattling up huge scores of 209 for 5 against the Delhi Daredevils, 194 for 7 yesterday and 183 for 3 against Pune Warriors.

The bowling attack, in which Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson also pose a danger to the opposition, appears well-rounded and would present a big challenge to Punjab on the bouncy track that is the hallmark of this venue.

On the other hand, Kings XI are coming into the game after being outsmarted by holders KKR at the Eden Gardens. A victory over MI, unlikely though it seems, would increase their points tally to 10.

The visitors have an under-performing retired Australian great at the helm like MI, but unlike Ponting have not yet taken the big decision to leave out Adam Gilchrist.

The wicket-keeper batsman is yet to provide the flying start which he was known for in his heydays and a tally of 94 runs in eight games has hurt his side’s chances.

The inclusion of Mandeep Singh, who has the ability to clear the ropes with nonchalance and has scored 219 runs in eight matches, as Gilchrist’s partner has certainly given a better look to the batting.

With another experienced Aussie campaigner, David Hussey (165 runs in 8 matches), too not among the runs, the batting has struggled.

They have struggled in five games outside their home venue of Mohali in putting up scores over 150 and even at home, they have been shot out for 138 by Chennai Super Kings.

The batting line-up needs to put up a far better display against the likes of Malinga, Johnson and Harbhajan to match MI’s batting might.

The visitors bowling attack too looks a bit weak, especially in the spin department, barring the experienced Piyush Chawla who has taken only three wickets after figuring in eight games.

Praveen Kumar (nine wickets) and Azhar Mahmood (11 wickets from 7) have been the main wicket-takers with their ability to move the ball in the air, and they would relish bowling in seaming conditions at the Wankhede.