It will be a clash of mid-table rivals when Mumbai Indians host Kings XI Punjab at the Wankhede stadium on Wednesday.
The tie comes on the back of hearings for two players — Hardik Pandya and KL Rahul — critical to the fortunes of their respective sides.
The duo, who are two of the country’s brightest young talents, have been embroiled in controversy since their ill-fated appearance of ‘Koffee with Karan’. Pandya and Rahul were suspended by the Supreme Court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) and recalled from Australia for their inappropriate comments on TV show ‘Koffee with Karan’.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, BCCI Ombudsman DK Jain will speak to Pandya and Rahul in Mumbai with both cricketers hoping that the matter will be finally put to rest.
Punjab opener Rahul has taken his time to find his bearing in IPL-12 but is finally starting to hit his stride just days before India’s squad for the 2019 World Cup is going to be announced. After his match-winning 71 on Monday night, Rahul now has 217 runs from six games this season at an average of 54.25 with three fifties. Pandya has got limited opportunities to bat but in those he has managed to make as big an impact as any for his side.
The Baroda all-rounder has a strike-rate of 178.9 this year and will be MI’s enforcer in the fag end of their batting innings. The home side’s bowling stocks look far more sorted with West Indian Alzarri Joseph and Australian left-arm paceman Jason Beherendorff bowling with pace and accuracy.
Mumbai’s top-order still seems a bit uncertain with skipper Rohit Sharma yet to find that one big knock while Quinton de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav have also been inconsistent. Punjab, on the other hand, will be pleased with the form of the Karnataka duo of Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, the architects of their win over Sunrisers Hyderabad on Monday.
Opener Chris Gayle remains a threat at the top of the innings but MI have the bowling arsenal to keep Punjab in check. After a slow start, MI have begun to find their groove and revenge for the earlier loss in Mohali will be on top of their agenda on Wednesday.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Jasprit Bumrah: The MI paceman might not be among the wickets this season but remains an ever-present threat for every opposition. His pin-point yorkers make him one of the finest death bowlers in the world. After an early-season injury scare, Bumrah has looked fit and fired on all cylinders which makes him skipper Rohit Sharma’s pace spearhead for every condition.
Chris Gayle: For many a season, the West Indian opener has been the X-factor for every team he has played. Gayle started off the season positively but has slowed down since missing a game with injury. Punjab need his muscle power at the top of the order to nullify the threat posed by his Windies counterpart Joseph.
Both teams are unlikely to tinker with their after wins in their last games
PROBABLE PLAYING XI:
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma(c), Quinton de Kock(wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Jason Behrendorff, , Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Alzarri Joseph and Ishan Kishan
Kings XI Punjab: Lokesh Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami and Mujeeb Ur Rehman/ Andrew Tye/ Hardus Viljoen,
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma(c), Quinton de Kock(wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jason Behrendorff, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Alzarri Joseph, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan (wk), Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav.
Kings XI Punjab: Lokesh Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Sam Curran, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Andrew Tye, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammed Shami, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Karun Nair, Moises Henriques, Varun Chakravarthi, Harpreet Brar, Simran Singh, Nicholas Pooran (wk), Hardus Viljoen, Ankit Rajpoot, Arshdeep Singh, Darshan Nalkande, Agnivesh Ayachi.
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First Published: April 10, 2019, 7:33 AM IST