Mumbai Indians, notoriously slow starters in the past, have bucked the trend this time around. The Rohit Sharma-led side sit joint top of the IPL 2017 table with Kolkata Knight Riders with four wins out of a possible five.
After a disastrous start to the campaign, Mumbai have gathered some momentum, winning four games on the trot, the last of which was a six-wicket win against the Gujarat Lions. Their batting finally seems to have clicked and their youngsters – Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya and Nitish Rana – in particular, have impressed.
They will be looking to make it five on the bounce when they travel to Indore to take on Glenn Maxwell’s Kings XI. Take a look at how they could line up.
Buttler has struggled at the top of the order for Mumbai with just 108 runs from 5 matches. While he was at the receiving end of a couple of umpiring howlers in the first two games, he has been dismissed cheaply after getting starts in the remaining three. However, with Rohit Sharma finally finding form in the middle order, it is unlikely the Englishman will be replaced at the top but he does need a significant score to cement his place in the side.
Not the most flashy of players at the top of the order, Parthiv has earned his spot in the Mumbai Indians lineup by consistently getting starts. With Buttler too struggling, it will be up to Parthiv to take the attack to the bowlers and allow the Englishman time to get settled before launching an attack of his own. The diminutive keeper managed just 3 runs in his last two outings and will look to get back amongst the runs against KXIP.
Rana has been Mumbai's standout player this season. The 23-year-old is Mumbai’s leading run scorer with 193 runs from 5 matches at an average of 38.6 and strike rate of 133.10. Rana has already scored two 50s this IPL, playing a key role in Mumbai’s victories against KKR, GL and Sunrisers. Rana is a huge hitter of the ball and with 2 spinners in the KXIP side – one of them being a left armer – Rana could indeed have a huge role to play.
Rohit Sharma struggled in the first four games, amassing scores of 3,2,4 and 0 before finally hitting his stride with a fluent 40 against Gujarat. The skipper will need to be at his best if Mumbai are to go all the way in the tournament. Moreover, he will be looking to find some form ahead of the Champions Trophy in England.
There were calls for Pollard to be dropped at the start of the tournament and those grew louder as the West Indian scratched about unconvincingly in the first three matches. However, he stepped up when Mumbai needed him the most with a destructive 70 off 47 balls against RCB with his side struggling at 7/4. He continued from where he left off against Gujarat with 39 off 23.
It is amazing how Krunal Pandya has not yet received a call-up to the Indian national team. The left-hander is destructive with the bat and quite handy with the ball in hand as well. One of Mumbai’s better players this season, Krunal has managed 88 runs and 4 wickets in IPL 2017.
The other half of the lethal Pandya combination, Hardik is Mumbai’s finisher with the bat in hand. He has taken to his role like a fish to water as was evident from his innings against KKR where he scored a rapid 29 to take his side to victory. He too is more than handy with the ball in hand and has picked up three wickets in the tournament so far.
The Turbanator has been Mumbai’s best bowler in this edition of the IPL. Harbhajan has picked up just 3 wickets in 4 games but it is his economy rate that has caught the eye. Harbhajan went for under 6 an over in 3 out of the 4 matches and provided Mumbai with control during the middle overs. He will be key if Mumbai are to keep Maxwell and Miller in check.
The New Zealander struggled to get his lines right in the first three matches and was carted for 36, 51 and 42. However, with cumulative figures of 4/44 in his next two matches, McClenaghan is expected to retain his place in the line-up. He will need another solid showing if he is to keep out Mitchell Johnson for a few more matches.
Mumbai’s death overs specialist, Bumrah has failed miserably in his last two outings, going wicketless. He has managed just 4 wickets in 5 games – with 3 of them coming in one match against KKR – and Mumbai will need him to fire on all cylinders going into the business end of the tournament. With his slingy action and terrific yorkers, he can be quite a handful for the batsmen and it will be up to him and Malinga to try and restrict Punjab to under 160.
Malinga missed Mumbai’s first two fixtures due to international duty but picked up two wickets on his return. He was expensive against Gujarat as Brendon Mccullum and then Dineh Karthik got stuck into him and will be looking to make a statement against a strong KXIP batting lineup.