The 22nd match of the season will see Mumbai Indians visiting Kings XI Punjab at the Holkar Stadium in Indore. Where MI have won their last four games and are sitting pretty in the second position on the points table, KXIP have suffered three losses on the trot after winning their initial two matches.
It seemed as if KXIP had managed to enforce a turnaround after their dismal show in the last two seasons as they began with a bang, defeating RPS and RCB in their first two games but suffered three consecutive losses and would be itching to get back to winning ways.
On the other hand, MI lost their first encounter to RPS in a close shave but made a sensational comeback and won four games in a row. The manner in which they achieved those victories must be very pleasing for the team and they would hope to continue the winning momentum as the league starts to enter the middle stages.
Here are the 5 factors of winning for both the teams.
#1 With the bat
The opening batsman Hashim Amla had shown signs of good form in the first two games but has gone off the radar a bit and suffered a string of low scores. His last 3 scores have been 25, 19 and 0 which is well below par for a player of his standards.
There have been question marks about his ability to up the ante after the powerplay overs. If he retains his place in the XI, he needs to step up big time.
The other opener Manan Vohra played one of the best innings of IPL against SRH in the last game. He single-handedly took his team close to the target with a knock of 95 but fell in the dying stages of the chase and the team fell short by a narrow margin. A lot would be expected of him for the rest of the league after that innings.
The three overseas batsmen that follow - Glenn Maxwell, Eoin Morgan and David Miller are a threatening combination but it’s high time they live up to their potential to aid KXIP get back in the rhythm. Especially the skipper Maxwell's form is extremely crucial for his team's chances as the initial two victories had come courtesy quickfire knocks from him.
On the contrary, MI have had a superb run in the batting department.They batted second on last 4 occasions and chased down scores of 178, 158, 142 and 176 respectively. The best part of those chases has been that one batsman or the other has taken the responsibility and brought the side home.
Their mainstay in the batting order has been Nitish Rana who is the leading run-getter for them so far with 193 runs in 5 innings. His emergence has been extraordinary and MI once again produced a youngster who looks a great prospect for the future. The kind of maturity he has shown at the age of 23 is exemplary and he would once again be the key man for them.
Another big plus for them is the return of form for Pollard who played two back to back superb innings. The Pandya brothers too have played their parts nicely down the order that makes the line-up capable of chasing any total.
The only concern for them was Rohit Sharma’s poor form but he too spent some time at the crease in the last game and now needs to get going as soon as possible.
#2 With the ball
The Punjab side has shown faith in the Indian bowlers and in the last game, they went with all four overseas batsmen. But the results clearly suggest that they are weaker in the bowling department as compared to batting.
The pacers Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma and Varun Aaron have all gone for more than 8 runs an over. There is a lack of quality overseas pacers in the squad and hence they are forced to go with Indian bowlers. Against a strong Mumbai batting line-up, they will be tested big time.
Their best bowler has been Axar Patel who has picked up 6 wickets so far with an economy rate of 7. Once more, the prime responsibility would be on him to restrict the strong opposition.
For Mumbai though, the story is a lot different. They have world class overseas pacers Lasith Malinga and Mitchell McClenaghan with the likes of Tim Southee and Mitchell Johnson waiting in the wings. Jasprit Bumrah firmly holds the fort as an Indian fast bowler and he has an able support in the form of Hardik Pandya.
The pacers will have to play an important role on a ground which has small boundaries and MI seems to have all bases covered as far as the pace department is concerned.
When it comes to spin bowling, Harbhajan Singh has done a great job so far having given away runs at just 5.94 per over. The other spinner Krunal Pandya is not too far behind and the duo certainly makes the bowling unit a pretty powerful one.
Punjab’s strength lies in batting and Mumbai possess the firepower to restrict them.
The general trend in the league so far has been to bowl first after winning the toss. Not too many sides have opted to bat after calling the right side of the coin. The results have shown that the team fielding first holds the greater advantage.
Both these teams have won all the games so far while chasing and it would once again be the factor for winning.
The initial two victories for KXIP came while chasing scores of 163 and 148. Both the wins included quickfire innings from their captain Maxwell. It is quite evident that the side does well whenever Maxwell plays well. In the last game, the Australian batted at number 3 which should be the case for the entire tournament as he needs to face as many deliveries as possible.
MI lost their initial encounter to RPS after batting first and putting up a target of 185. In the next four matches, they have enjoyed chasing and won all of them. The batting line-up includes Parthiv, Buttler, Rohit, Rana, Pollard and the Pandya brothers. Each one of them is capable of building an innings as well as hitting big strokes when necessary.
Not all of them have clicked together but there have been one or two who have stuck to the crease and played the defining innings. They would love to keep the winning momentum and without a doubt, chasing will be the preferred option.
#4 Shaun Marsh in place of Amla for KXIP
Hashim Amla has a solitary score of above fifty when he scored 58 in the second game against RCB and looked in sublime touch. But the other 4 innings have produced 28, 25, 19 and 0 respectively. He has got starts but hasn’t been able to convert them to something substantial.
Additionally, the South African has had issues in scoring freely once the fielding restrictions are lifted. A strike rate 123.81 suggests he is struggling to break free.
On the other hand, a class player like Shaun Marsh is warming the benches. He has been associated with the Punjab side since the inception of IPL in the year 2008 and has been a key figure for them since then.
His record in the IPL is tremendous, having played 62 IPL matches. He has accounted for 2213 runs at a healthy average of 40.98 with a century and 18 half-centuries. These are not ordinary numbers in the shortest format of the game and suggest that he needs to be a certainty in the XI.
The left-hander has the ability to adjust his game according to the match situation. He can drop the anchor as well as go hammer and tongs if needed. If they need to inflict a revival at this stage of the league, it’s time that Marsh gets a look in.
#5 Rohit Sharma to open the innings for MI
The biggest cause of concern for MI this season has been the underperforming skipper Rohit Sharma. He had scores of 3, 2, 4 and 0 in the first 4 games. He batted at number 4 and 3 and failed to get going at the start of his innings.
He came to the fore finally with an unbeaten 40 off 29 against GL in the last game. There too, he batted at number 4 but there has been a huge debate about his batting position and most feel that he should bat up the order.
The Mumbaikar is by far the best batsman in the side and hence he needs to face the most number of deliveries in an innings. And that’s possible only if he opens the innings.
His form is pretty vital for MI’s chances this year. MI have had a good season so far but without much contribution from the skipper. It has much to do with performances of other batsmen who have stood out.
But that might not happen every time and failures from other players are bound to happen at some stage. It is about time that he bats up the order. His record as an opener is fantastic and the revival of his international career also happened since he started opening.
Additionally. the combination of Parthiv and Buttler haven’t provided the best of starts and the Englishman is better off batting lower down the order where he can use his lusty blows to finish the innings.