The Kings XI Punjab found a new hero in Manan Vohra, but just couldn't get past Bhuvneshwar Kumar's spell in their previous game against Hyderabad. Their campaign, which started off on a strong note, is suddenly tapering off. Glenn Maxwell and his troops need to recover from the nail-biting finish and stand tall against a strong Mumbai Indians, a team that has got off to a strong start despite being perennially poor starters.
As has been the case previously as well, the Punjab team's overseas players are misfiring, although the bowling, despite chopping and changes, still looks in one piece. Here's what the Punjab XI could look like against Mumbai:
The South African started off on a positive note with a few solid knocks at the start of the season, but his scores have waned thereafter. He got out to Bhuvneshwar Kumar first ball in their previous game, seriously denting Punjab’s chase. More will be expected out of him against a strong Mumbai bowling attack.
The star of the last match, Vohra just stumbled before the finishing line, having single-handedly taken Punjab to an improbable win against Hyderabad. He has been part of the team since 2013, but has never been able to convert the promise into performance, until their last game.
The stumper might have been impressive behind the stumps, but it is his form in front of them that must be bothering the Punjab side. He has managed just 47 runs, which is a poor record for one of the only six centuries of the franchise. Playing at the pivotal No.3 position, there is surely pressure on him to perform.
The additional burden of captaincy seems to be doing more harm than good to Maxwell. After a blistering start to the first two games, Maxwell has stumbled in form, scoring just 35 runs in his three games. With less runs on the board, he has had troubled shuffling his bowlers, not able to fix onto a settled bowling line-up.
The 30-year old has played just two games this season, inducted due to the thin form of the other overseas players. He himself hasn’t hit the right chords yet, but Maxwell is expected to have faith in the England limited-overs captain for the Mumbai game.
Killer Miller has just not been able to convert his starts into something substantial in the five encounters, managing just one 30. He has been installed in the middle order to provide the final flourish, but the lack of partners at the other end hasn’t helped him.
The left-handed all-rounder has done decently with the ball, but, except for one match, hasn’t fired with the bat. He was promoted up the order to get more time to settle, but will have to be consigned to the finisher’s role with the top order already heavy.
He might not be a part of the Indian team currently, but Mohit Sharma and skilful bowling still go hand in hand. He bowls heavy doses of back of the hand slower ball, and manages to hurls the ball full and straight in the death overs. This season, however, he hasn’t been among the wickets.
The other Sharma, the lynchpin of the Punjab bowling for a few seasons now, extracts heavy swing with the new ball, keeping the batsman on a leash. He can also be vital in the final overs with his yorkers, and will be banked upon to provide the initial breakthroughs to the Punjab side.
The Punjab spin attack is wafer thin, with Axar Patel being the primary spinner. In such a scenario, KC Cariappa will have to stand up and be counted with his mysterious finger spin. With leg spin, googly and the carrom ball in his kitty, he can be difficult to score past if he gets going.
Unsold in the auctions, Ishant managed to sneak into the team as a replacement for Murali Vijay, despite not exactly being branded as a limited overs bowler. He has played two games and has been doing the containing job. Being an important part of the Indian Test pace attack, the Punjab team would want more of Ishant than he is currently offering.