Revived Punjab face stiff challenge
Match factsApril 29, 2009
Start time 16:45 pm (14:45 GMT)
Two teams - Deccan Chargers and Delhi Daredevils - have dominated the tournament thus far, while the two that take on each other in Durban on Wednesday have both emerged strong contenders. Punjab Kings XI overcame their rain-affected defeats in their first two games to win the next two quite comfortably, marking a trend similar to their performance last season. Mumbai have been more impressive, putting behind them the blip against table-toppers Deccan, to grind Kolkata Knight Riders into submission with a 92-run win in their previous game.
Both teams appear to have rectified their faults that plagued them in the early stages. The fast bowling duo of Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Abdulla recovered well after Duckworth-Lewis didn't give them much of a chance in Punjab's two losses, and have since shared 12 wickets between them. Abdulla's three-wicket burst proved decisive in enabling his team to defend 139 against Rajasthan Royals in their last game, and Pathan, adding to his impressive bowling, has been consistent with the bat. In the batting line-up, Ravi Bopara and Kumar Sangakkara have proved instrumental in their team's victories, though Karan Goel, after three disappointing outings, will look to make a more significant contribution.
Things fell into place perfectly for Mumbai in their thumping win against Kolkata. Sachin Tendulkar and Sanath Jayasuriya proved a lethal opening combination, and despite the middle-order wobble, the bowlers, led by Lasith Malinga and Dwayne Bravo, who've shared 15 wickets in three completed games, took little time to skittle out the opposition. The form of Shikhar Dhawan, who averages 12.33, remains a concern, but the sheer ease with which they knocked off Kolkata, and the consistency of their star players, gives them the edge going into Durban.
Mumbai: Sachin Tendulkar has been in prime form, with two half-centuries, and averaging 81.50. Though his opening partner, Sanath Jayasuriya, has not been as prolific, both batsmen have strike-rates of over 130. Lasith Malinga has been their highest wicket-taker with nine at a strike rate of 6.8. Zaheer Khan, on the other hand, has had an expensive IPL, bagging just one wicket and going at 7.27-an-over.
Punjab: Though Irfan Pathan and Yusuf Abdulla have been among the wickets, they have also been among the more expensive of their team's bowlers, with each conceding above 8-an-over. Piyush Chawla has been economical, going at 5.63 and taking three wickets. As for their batting, Karan Goel has two ducks to his name in his last three games, while Mahela Jayawardene has had one notable performance and averages 22.50, but will look to impose himself more.
Watch out for
Yusuf Abdulla: Jerome Taylor's absence was a blow for Punjab ahead of the tournament, but Yusuf Abdulla, after a shocker of a first ball where he was dispatched for six, has filled the void admirably to emerge as their highest wicket-taker with seven at an average of 13.
Mumbai could retain a winning combination. They were able to restrict Kolkata in the last game with a collective bowling effort, and though Dhawal Kulkarni has had only one game, where he went for 18 in one over, he may have to wait his turn. Saurabh Tiwary, the left-hand batsman, has had just the one match and Mumbai could give him a go against Punjab.
Mumbai: (probable) 1 Sanath Jayasuriya, 2 Sachin Tendulkar (capt), 3 Shikhar Dhawan, 4 JP Duminy, 5 Dwayne Bravo, 6 Saurabh Tiwary, 7 Abhishek Nayar, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Zaheer Khan, 10 Pinal Shah (wk), 11 Lasith Malinga.
Punjab had included Ranadeb Bose, the medium-pacer, in their win against Bangalore, but he went for too many, conceding 24 in two overs. His replacement for the next game, Ramesh Powar, proved tidy, going for just 10 runs in two overs, and with spinners playing a major influence in this IPL, his supporting role for Piyush Chawla should come in handy.
Punjab: (probable) 1 Karan Goel, 2 Ravi Bopara, 3 Yuvraj Singh (capt), 4 Kumar Sangakkara (wk), 5 Mahela Jayawardene, 6 Irfan Pathan, 7 Taruwar Kohli, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Vikramjeet Malik, 10 Ramesh Powar, 11 Yusuf Abdulla.
Punjab emerged winners in both contests between the two sides, of which one was a thriller that went to the last ball and was decided by a run-out. Punjab won the first game comfortably by a 66-run margin, with Sangakkara top scoring with 94. Tendulkar shone in the second with a supreme 65, before a collapse towards the death concluded with Yuvraj diving full stretch to clip the stumps at the non-striker's end to beat an attempted single by offspinner Vikrant Yeligati, and snatch a one-run win.
Siddhartha Talya is an editorial assistant at Cricinfo