Mumbai seek to right poor record
Monday, April 29, 2013
Start time 2000 IST (1430 GMT)
Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab have little in common. Mumbai are big spenders, often splashing cash on the flavours of the season and then benching them; Kings XI are more frugal. Mumbai have some of the world's most sought after Twenty20 players on their overseas roster; Kings XI's foreign cricketers might have been sought after several summers ago. Mumbai's Indian contingent rivals that of Chennai Super Kings as the strongest in the IPL; most of Kings XI's Indians are too green. Yet, only one win separates the two sides after eight games each, and Kings XI have had the better of previous contests against Mumbai.
After much tinkering and inconsistent results, Mumbai seem to have discovered a successful formula for the time being. Benching Ricky Ponting has reunited Dwayne Smith and Sachin Tendulkar, perhaps the most successful of several opening combinations Mumbai have tried recently, and allowed them to play Mitchell Johnson, whose short-ball salvo rattled Chris Gayle on Saturday. They have also batted Kieron Pollard at No. 5 in recent matches. It's hard to pick chinks in the side that beat Royal Challengers Bangalore, because Mumbai Indians have shed the poor performers from their previous two defeats - Ponting, Jasprit Bumrah and Munaf Patel.
Kings XI have not yet made the decision to drop their non-performing captain. Adam Gilchrist said he was close to sitting out of the game against Kolkata Knight Riders but was voted in by the majority of the selection panel. He made a run-a-ball 27 at Eden Gardens, his best score of the season, but looked scratchy. His hand-eye coordination is just not what it once was. Should Gilchrist not play on Monday, Kings XI could play an overseas contingent of David Hussey, David Miller, Shaun Marsh and Azhar Mahmood or Luke Pomersbach. The problem is, Kings XI don't have a viable back-up for the wicketkeeper's job.
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Mumbai's new-ball attack is likely to comprise Lasith Malinga and Johnson. They are not among the season's top wicket-takers but they pose a challenge of international quality to top orders that don't. Malinga has only five wickets in six games but has an economy-rate of 6.16. Johnson has nine wickets in seven games, and while he may not be the most miserly, his effectiveness as an impact bowler was showcased during his spell to Gayle at the Wankhede.
David Miller's inclusion has added considerable firepower to Kings XI's batting line-up. He averages 72 and has a strike-rate of 137 after four innings. His only real failure came at the spinner-friendly Eden Gardens; the quicker Wankhede surface will be more to Miller's liking. Given that there are few other in-form batsmen in Kings XI's line-up, it is vital that Miller is not held down the order for longer than is necessary.
Stats and trivia
- Of the ten matches between these two teams, Kings XI have won six and Mumbai have won four. Kings XI have won two out of three games at the Wankhede.
- Shaun Marsh averages 65.40 in six games against Mumbai, while Pomersbach has a high score of 79 not out in two innings against them.
- Pollard averages only 14 at a strike rate of 128 in six matches against Kings XI. Malinga has had success against Kings XI - 13 wickets in six games and an economy of 6.
George Binoy is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo