Kings XI Punjab continue battle for IPL 2017 play-offs vs Mumbai Indians | ipl 2017 | Hindustan Times
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Kings XI Punjab continue battle for IPL 2017 play-offs vs Mumbai Indians

Mumbai Indians need to fall back on their tried and tested methods to ensure a top-two finish in IPL 2017 while Kings XI Punjab’s qualification race will be derailed if they lose this clash

ipl 2017 Updated: May 10, 2017 18:46 IST
Rajesh Pansare
Kings XI Punjab kept their play-off hopes alive with a win over Kolkata Knight Riders but they will be hoping to win their remaining games.
Kings XI Punjab kept their play-off hopes alive with a win over Kolkata Knight Riders but they will be hoping to win their remaining games.(BCCI)

Mumbai Indians had settled into a nice pattern as the 2017 Indian Premier League progressed. Skipper Rohit Sharma won the toss on six occasions, opted to bowl each time, and won five of those matches.

On Monday, against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rohit won the toss for the seventh time but opted to go against the pattern and chose to bat. And the outcome was disastrous as Mumbai Indians suffered their most humiliating defeat of this IPL edition.

On Thursday, they will be up against Kings XI Punjab, who need to win their remaining matches and hope other teams drop points to help them qualify for the playoffs. KXIP finished the proceedings in Mohali with a thrilling win over Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday. After Mumbai, Kings XI Punjab travel to Pune for their last group match against Rising Pune Supergiant.

Shikhar Dhawan’s fifty helped Sunrisers Hyderabad beat Mumbai Indians but Rohit Sharma’s team have qualified for the play-offs. (BCCI)

Regaining momentum

The loss against Hyderabad didn’t harm Mumbai Indians’ position at the top of the points table, but they will have to stick to their tried and tested strategies in the remaining two group matches to regain the momentum going into the playoffs. With matches coming thick and fast, it is easy to lose your way and the Mumbai think-tank will be aware of that.

After their last home game against Kings XI Punjab, Mumbai Indians travel to Kolkata, and it could be a potential shootout for the top spot in the table with Knight Riders Rohit’s team slip up on Thursday.

Target top two

While MI have already qualified for the playoffs, finishing in the top two will be vital as it will not only give them two chances to qualify for the final but also the home advantage in Qualifier 1. They have won five of their six matches at the Wankhede Stadium this season.

Mumbai’s bowlers have done well but their batting unit has blown hot and cold. While they have scored 200-plus in a couple of matches, they failed to chase 160 at home against Rising Pune Supergiant, and almost blew their chase of 153 against Gujarat Lions in Rajkot before winning in the Super Over.

Kieron Pollard slammed a magnificent, unbeaten 63 against Delhi Daredevils. (BCCI)

The form of Nitish Rana, who had a lightning start, may also be a concern. In the last four innings, the left-handed bat’s highest score has been 27, which is nothing near impressive for a No 3 batsman.

Mumbai Indians tinkered a bit with their batting line-up in the last two games, but the results were mixed. Against Delhi Daredevils, Kieron Pollard was promoted to No 3 and did well while Rana didn’t get a look in.

Batting reshuffle

In the last match against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Rana batted at No 3 and Pollard at No 6, but both failed. Hardik Pandya, who has done well as a finisher, was sent ahead of Pollard but struggled while trying to steer Mumbai to safety with Rohit.

Mumbai rested the injured Krunal Pandya for the last couple of matches and will hope he is available for the last two group games. Mumbai don’t look thin in batting like they do when his replacement Karn Sharma plays.

The Baroda all-rounder has done well at No 5, adjusting his game according to need -- playing the role of an anchor as well as bringing out those big hits when required.