Mumbai Indians will be out of the tournament if they lose to Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday, but if they win they will move to fourth place. Their net run rate is 0.405, which is better even than the table-toppers Sunrisers Hyderabad, because so many of their losses were close. But they cannot avail its advantage if they lose any more matches.
Considering that, Rohit Sharma may not mind facing a side that is propped on the shoulders of two batsmen. Kings XI’s openers KL Rahul and Chris Gayle are massive threats, especially at a small ground like the Wankhede Stadium, but break through them and there’s not much left. Kings XI desperately need their middle order to step up.
Victory for Kings XI will take them to 14 points, but not guarantee a playoff spot just yet. Defeat will make qualification that much tougher because of their net run rate of -0.518 is the worst of all teams.
In the news
Spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman hurt his hand while bowling against Kolkata Knight Riders on Saturday and missed Kings XI’s match against Royal Challengers Bangalore. His return could prove quite useful against a deep and power-packed batting line-up.
Mumbai restricted Kings XI to 176 in Indore – a ground that is possibly more batting-friendly than the Wankhede – and wrapped up the chase with one over to spare. Gayle and Suryakumar Yadav made fifties.
Mumbai Indians 1 Evin Lewis, 2 Suryakumar Yadav, 3 Rohit Sharma (capt), 4 Ishan Kishan (wk), 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Krunal Pandya, 7 Ben Cutting, 8 JP Duminy/Kieron Pollard, 9 Mitchell McClenaghan, 10 Jasprit Bumrah, 11 Mayank Markande
Kings XI Punjab 1 KL Rahul (wk), 2 Chris Gayle, 3 Mayank Agarwal, 4 Karun Nair, 5 Aaron Finch, 6 Marcus Stoinis/Mujeeb ur Rahman, 7 Axar Patel, 8 R Ashwin (capt), 9 Andrew Tye, 10 Mohit Sharma, 11 Ankit Rajpoot
Rohit averages 6.6 and strikes at 88 in the seven matches Mumbai have lost this season. In the five they have won, he has averaged 73 and struck at 155. Basically, Kings XI need to take him out early. And to do that they might try Axar Patel. The head-to-head reads: 18 runs, 25 balls, one wicket.
Gayle has scored 217 runs in 151 balls at an average of 72 against all the bowlers Mumbai currently have on their roster. But there is hope: Ben Cutting has dismissed him twice in 17 balls, and Hardik Pandya once in 15 balls. Jasprit Bumrah has also managed to keep him quiet (26 runs in 27 balls). Expect those three to take a decent amount of workload while the Universe Boss is at the crease.
Stats that matter
Kings XI began their campaign with five wins in seven matches. Then they went into a seven-day break. Upon returning to action, they lost four out of five games and tumbled from first to fifth place.
Kings XI have almost entirely been riding on individual performances. Their two best bowlers Andrew Tye (20 wickets in 12 innings, economy rate 8.02) and Mujeeb (14 wickets in 11 innings, economy rate 6.99) have been outstanding. The others have contributed 29 wickets in 12 innings at an economy rate of 9.3.
Gayle has been a monster against legspin this season. He has smashed 79 runs off only 33 balls without ever losing his wicket.
Evin Lewis needs 18 runs to get to 3000 in T20s. But he seems to be struggling against fast bowling this IPL season (strike-rate 127, average 21). So Kings XI might look to use Ankit Rajpoot to unsettle the opener. Moreover, Rajpoot concedes only 7.3 an over in the Powerplay and has taken five of his eight wickets in this period.
Suryakumar has struck 473 runs in 12 innings this season. That is the second-highest tally by an uncapped batsman in all IPLs, after Shaun Marsh’s 616 in 2008. He’s also grown up playing his cricket at Wankhede stadium, making him a very handy choice.