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It’s Mumbai vs Mumbaikars

The franchisee owners chose the name Mumbai Indians as it had a pan-India appeal. The composition of the squad too reinforced the Indian connection more than Mumbai.

cricket Updated: May 02, 2011 00:25 IST
Abhijeet Kulkarni

The franchisee owners chose the name Mumbai Indians as it had a pan-India appeal. The composition of the squad too reinforced the Indian connection more than Mumbai.

But come Monday, two local boys may prove a thorn in their flesh as Mumbai Indians aim to regain pole position in IPL-4 standings by beating Kings XI Punjab at the Wankhede Stadium.

Mumbaikar Paul Valthaty of Kings XI Punjab has been overlooked by the state selectors for over seven years now while all-rounder Abhishek Nayar was discarded by Mumbai Indians after he fell out of favour last season.

Both would have a point to prove in front of their ‘home’ crowd in a battle of teams with top-heavy batting order. And, the short boundaries should provide them enough inspiration to use the long handle.

POLLARD CONCERNS
However, Kings XI’s top-four batsmen are not the only worry for Mumbai at the halfway stage of the tournament. The Sachin Tendulkar-led side might be sitting at the top of the heap, thanks to handsome contributions from the captain, Ambati Rayudu and Rohit Sharma, but every time they have failed, the other batsmen have stumbled like ninepins.

The management has already tried three opening partners for Tendulkar with David Jacobs getting the most number of opportunities. However, the wicketkeeper-batsman has failed to string together one decent knock.

The other headache for Tendulkar would be the batting form of Kieron Pollard. The West Indies all-rounder was retained for his lusty hitting down the order, but he hasn’t been able to recreate the magic of the previous season.

In the first few matches, he hardly got to bat. But in the games he played, he looked vulnerable against spin.

In fact, the entire middle-order has looked susceptible against spin in their last game against the Rajasthan Royals, and the Kings XI Punjab would look to exploit that weakness.

RELIANCE ON TOP-3
The visitors are no different with the team relying heavily on Valthaty, Adam Gilchrist and Shaun Marsh. At least one of these three batsmen has fired in every game Yuvraj-led Kings XI Punjab have won so far.

Gilchrist has always enjoyed his duals with Mumbai Indians in the past and if the 39-year-old comes to the party on Monday, the hosts would have their task cut out.