Punjab brace for Mumbai backlash
Match factsMonday, May 2 Mumbai
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Having played only six games, Kings XI Punjab are in a far better position than their eighth place in the points table suggests. They will know, though, that they could have been much better off if not for defeats in their previous two games. The bowlers came a cropper in the run-fest against Delhi Daredevils, before the batting misfired against Kolkata Knight Riders. Punjab's other problem is potential rustiness. They have played only twice in ten days, a luxury rarely afforded in a tournament with mind-bogglingly fast turn-arounds. Positions in the league have changed with the randomness of a top-end washing machine; the next few days could be Punjab's chance to move up the ladder.
Their defeat in Jaipur notwithstanding, Mumbai Indians have been a clinical and efficient juggernaut. If anything, they will be smarting from the drubbing at Rajasthan Royal's hands. Sachin Tendulkar has had a couple of failures after a strong start to the tournament. Davy Jacobs and Ambati Rayudu have also gone off the boil in the last week. Punjab's bowlers should brace for a strong resurgence. Their batsmen should find armoured toe-caps since Lasith Malinga will once again look to sling down those yorkers.
Form guide (most recent first)Mumbai: LWWWW (third in points table)
Punjab: LLWWW (eighth in points table)
Abhishek Nayar's place in the Punjab XI will come under scrutiny. Paras Dogra or Mandeep Singh could come in if they look to bolster the batting. They might also choose to bench one of their three spinners, in which case either Piyush Chawla or Bipul Sharma will sit out.
Mumbai might have run out of reasons to retain R Sathish. T Suman will consider himself unlucky if he misses out again.
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In the spotlight
Paul Valthaty loves to get a half-step forward and hit cleanly through the line. Lasith Malinga loves to push batsmen like Valthaty into their crease with scorching yorkers. The former is from Mumbai. The latter plays for Mumbai. The real fans at the Wankhede will root for Valthaty. One way or the other, this mini-battle should be fun to watch.
Adam Gilchrist played one of his most memorable Test innings at this very ground, back in 2001. He came up against Harbhajan Singh, on the threshold of greatness, and tamed him with an unforgettable assault. Ten years hence, Gilchrist has called time on an illustrious career, and enjoys himself in the IPL. Ten years hence, Harbhajan has managed to produce sparks of brilliance without reprising 2001. Expect fireworks when he runs in to Gilchrist on Monday.
- Malinga has the most wickets (17), the best strike-rate (9.7) as well as the best average (9.64) in the tournament
- Harbhajan and Malinga have picked up two of the three five-fors in the tournament
The chatter"They are the best team in the competition, no doubt about that. They have a star-studded line-up that includes some good Indian domestic talent."
Adam Gilchrist believes Mumbai are the best side, but will want to upset them tomorrow
Nitin Sundar is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo