Mumbai, Punjab to face off in the hills

Mumbai are in the play-offs, but Punjab are out of the title race.

The picturesque HPCA stadium.

Having been eliminated from the play-off race on Friday when SunRisers Hyderabad beat Rajasthan Royals, Kings XI Punjab will not have much to play for when they take on table-toppers Mumbai Indians at the HPCA Stadium here on Saturday.

Mumbai Indians are already guaranteed a top two spot and Champions League qualification with 11 wins in 15 matches, and are looking to maintain the winning momentum and their top spot in the points tally.

Mumbai have one of the strongest batting line-ups in the league. They have the likes of a fit-again Sachin Tendulkar, Dinesh Karthik, skipper Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard.

However, given the situation, Mumbai may want to rest some of their key players.

The pitch here assists pacers and it’s likely that Mumbai will play with four pacers on Saturday.

They have Mitchell Johnson, with 22 wickets in 14 matches, Sri Lankan ace Lasith Malinga, Abu Nechim Ahmed and Dhawal Kulkarni in the fast bowling department.

Among their spinners, Harbhajan Singh, with 18 scalps in 15 matches, and Pragyan Ojha have kept the batsmen in check, but there is a possibility that one among them might not be picked due to the nature of the wicket.

Although Punjab lost the away tie against Mumbai, they can take inspiration from their wins over a strong side like Bangalore, both home and away, and the fact that Mumbai will be playing at the mountain venue for the first time.

The Punjab batting line-up can give any bowling attack a run for its money. Skipper Adam Gilchrist and Shaun Marsh have the ability to provide the team a fiery start.

Azhar Mahmood was offcolour in the last match but he could be effective both with the bat and ball, while David Miller can snatch the match away from any opponent.

Punjab have a balanced bowling attack and they can go with the same combination as against Delhi where four pacers in Praveen Kumar, Azhar Mahmood, Sandeep Sharma and Parvinder Awana played.

Mumbai could rest key players in their last league match but would be keen to retain top spot