Mumbai, April 21
Perennial slow starters Mumbai Indians have found their mojo and will be favourites against a faltering Punjab Kings in their Indian Premier League clash here on Saturday.
Having made a poor start with defeats in first two matches, Mumbai Indians, who are placed sixth in the points table, have been able to bounce back impressively with wins against Delhi Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
On the other hand, Punjab Kings, ranked seventh in the points table, have stuttered in the absence of their regular captain and the highest run-scorer Shikhar Dhawan, who is unlikely to play against Mumbai Indians here at the Wankhede Stadium owing to a shoulder injury.
Dhawan played a key role in PBKS making a confident start to the season but his absence has made a significant difference in the outcomes that have come along their way.
Punjab Kings’ fielding coach Trevor Gonsalves informed after their 24-run loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday that Dhawan would need another 2-3 days to attain complete fitness.
Punjab Kings have three wins to show from overall six matches but all three losses have come in their last four matches, with PBKS desperately missing the stability and firepower that Dhawan provides at the top.
The left-handed senior batter has scored 233 runs in four matches and is currently among the top run-getters in the IPL 2023 and his absence is something that PBKS have not been able to fulfill anyhow.
Sikandar Raza scored a fine half-century (57) and took Punjab Kings over the line against Lucknow Super Giants but he was left out of Thursday’s clash against RCB inexplicably, as PBKS were bowled out for 150 in 18.2 overs in pursuit of 175.
Prabhsimran Singh hit 46 to end his ordinary run with the bat while Punjab Kings will hope that their overseas stars in Liam Livingstone, Matthew Short and Sam Curran do more with the bat.
With the ball, PBKS have again blown hot and cold and it will be a challenge to stop the Mumbai batters, who seem to have found their feet and have fired in unison.
The troika of Arshdeep Singh, Kagiso Rabada and stand-in captain Curran, the costliest player ever in the history of IPL auction, will have their task cut out as Punjab Kings look to arrest their slide.
Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan at the top have provided brisk starts to Mumbai Indians, getting their runs at an almost 10 runs per over which has set the platform for the others that follow.
The overseas pair of Cameron Green and Tim David has done well in the last three games or so with the bat, but it remains to be seen how their middle-order mainstay Suryakumar Yadav goes about his job. In the bowling department, Mumbai Indians are likely to be without their overseas star Jofra Archer who continues to carefully tread his way back into top flight cricket.
The right-arm pacer has not played since MI’s opening match against RCB on April 2, while he has trained with the team but not in the full tilt.
The young Arjun Tendulkar has made an impressive start to his IPL career, taking his maiden wicket in the last game against SRH and also bowled a disciplined final over to defend 20 runs, which would boost the left-arm seamer’s confidence going forward.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma copy;, Suryakumar Yadav, Tim David, Dewald Brevis, Tilak Varma, Ishan Kishan (wk), Tristan Stubbs, Vishnu Vinod, Cameron Green, Arjun Tendulkar, Ramandeep Singh, Shams Mulani, Riley Meredith Nehal Wadhera, Hrithik Shokeen, Arshad Khan, Duan Jansen, Piyush Chawla, Kumar Kartikeya, Raghav Goyal, Jofra Archer, Jason Behrendorff, Akash Madhwal.
Punjab Kings: Shikhar Dhawan copy;, Arshdeep Singh, Baltej Singh, Rahul Chahar, Sam Curran, Rishi Dhawan, Nathan Ellis, Gurnoor Brar, Harpreet Brar, Harpreet Singh, Vidwath Kaverappa, Liam Livingstone, Mohit Rathee, Prabhsimran Singh, Kagiso Rabada, Bhanuka Rajapaksa, M Shahrukh Khan, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Shivam Singh, Matthew Short, Sikandar Raza, Atharva Taide.
Time: 7:30 PM (IST).