They have been in rampaging form with five straight wins but Mumbai Indians can ill afford to be complacent against a Chris Gayle-inspired Kings XI Punjab side in their IPL game here on Sunday.
A win for Mumbai Indians will virtually seal them a spot in the play-offs while a loss for KXIP could send them out of contention.
Mumbai Indians have steamrolled opposition teams with an explosive batting line-up complemented by a lethal bowling attack and the latest side to bear their brunt were the Kolkata Knight Riders who suffered an eight-wicket defeat on Friday.
Table-toppers MI boast of top batsmen such as captain Rohit Sharma (251 runs) and his opening partner Quinton de Kock (269) and both are in good touch, while the middle-order is manned by the likes of Suryakumar Yadav (243 runs) and Ishan Kishan (186 runs).
Rohit played second fiddle to de Kock in MI’s win against KKR, with the South African hitting 78 not out from 44 balls.
In the bowling front, pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult have formed the most successful pair this IPL with 12 wickets apiece from eight matches so far. Spinner Rahul Chahar chipped in against KKR with two wickets for 18 runs.
On the other hand, KXIP are languishing at the bottom of the table despite having the top-two leading run-getters of the tournament in skipper K L Rahul (387 runs at a strike rate of 134.84) and his opening partner, Mayank Agarwal (337 runs).
KXIP’s problem has been that their batting and bowling have not fired in unison on most occasions even though their confidence has been boosted by the return of Gayle.
The self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ made his first appearance this IPL with a bang, hitting a 45-ball 53, a knock that was laced with five sixes and a four in KXIP’s win over Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore.
KKR aim to sort out batting woes under new captain Morgan in clash against SRH
A new captain in the saddle, Kolkata Knight Riders would look to sort out their batting woes and strive for consistency when they face Sunrisers Hyderabad in an intriguing mid-table clash.
After a string of below par performances, Dinesh Karthik handed over the reins to his deputy Eoin Morgan hours before KKR’s match against Mumbai Indians on Friday. But the World Cup-winning England captain’s campaign as leader was off to a disappointing start with MI handing KKR an eight-wicket mauling.
KKR are still in the top four of IPL points table behind Mumbai Indians, Delhi Capitals and Royal Challengers Bangalore with four wins and as many defeats. But if the two-time champions want to seal a play-off spot, their batsmen need to step up, shrug off their inconsistencies and win matches for the team.
After a massive 82-run loss to RCB, the KKR batsmen failed yet again against MI bowlers as they were reduced to 42 for 4 in the eighth over. Half of KKR batsmen were gone for 61 in the 11th over. An 87-run unbroken stand for the sixth wicket between Morgan (39 not out) and pacer Pat Cummins (53 not out) took them to 148 for 5.
But MI needed just 16.5 overs to overhaul the target, losing two wickets in the process.
At the top, Shubhman Gill has failed to capitalise on his starts, while Rahul Tripathi has not gone past the 20-run mark after his brilliant 81 against the Chennai Super Kings.
The Sunrisers, who occupy the fifth spot on the points table with just three wins from eight outings, are also struggling. With the injuries ruling out pace spearhead Bhuvneshwar Kumar and all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, the Orange Army is facing a conundrum of whether to strengthen their batting or their bowling unit, a fact that skipper David Warner conceded.
A cause of concern for the Sunrisers is Rashid Khan’s form. After returning impressive figures like 3/14, 0/12, 3/12, the Afghan leg- spinner remained ineffective in the team’s last two losses. Rahul Tewatia, Ambati Rayudu and Shane Watson smashed him for sixes.
Skipper Warner will desperately hope that his star spinner finds his mojo back which is imperative for the team’s success.
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