IPL 2018: Refreshed Kings XI Punjab aim to keep Mumbai Indians down
The R Ashwin-led Kings XI Punjab had a consistent run before enjoying a mini-break and will look to hit the ground running against defending champions Mumbai Indians, who have struggled and languish at the bottom of the IPL 2018 table.Updated: May 03, 2018 19:11 IST
Their four-match unbeaten streak halted in the previous game, Kings XI Punjab, refreshed by a seven-day break, would look to get back to their winning ways when they face Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Holkar Stadium here on Friday.
The R Ashwin-led Kings XI Punjab started their campaign with a six-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils before losing to Royal Challengers Bangalore by four wickets. The decision to pick the self-proclaimed ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle in the starting XI worked wonders as the IPL 2014 finalists registered successive victories against Chennai Super Kings, Sunrisers Hyderabad, Kolkata Knight Riders and Delhi Daredevils.
All seemed well with KXIP before they caved in against the formidable SRH bowling attack, losing by 13 runs while chasing a modest 132 at Hyderabad.
Agarwal, Finch in poor form
While KL Rahul (268 runs), Gayle (252 runs) and Karun Nair (186 runs) have stepped up when required, Mayank Agarwal and Aaron Finch are yet to do justice to their reputation.
Karnataka opener Agarwal, who amassed 1160 runs at an average of 105.45 in the 2017-18 Ranji Trophy, has managed just 105 runs in seven games while Finch has crossed double figures only once in five innings.
Against SRH last week, Gayle and Rahul added 55 runs for the opening wicket but the next eight batsmen folded for just 62 more runs as KXIP slumped to their second loss in IPL 2018.
Yuvraj Singh, who has aggregated just 50 runs in six matches, was dropped for the game against SRH. His replacement Manoj Tiwary also couldn’t do much but is likely to be persisted with for the next few matches.
Ashwin would hope KXIP’s middle-order batsmen will come good when the team needs them to.
KXIP’s bowling attack, on the other hand, looks balanced. Pacer Ankit Rajpoot has a five-wicket haul to his name. Australian Andrew Tye (nine wickets) and young Afghan spin sensation Mujeeb Ur Rahman (seven wickets) have been stupendous in the initial and death overs. Ashwin has contained the flow of runs but has taken just five wickets. He would like a few more scalps in his kitty.
MI - Down and almost out
The defending champions have lost six out of their eight games and need to win all their remaining six matches and hope other teams help them stay in playoff contention.
The spate of bad results for Mumbai Indians has coincided with the poor form of their captain Rohit Sharma, who has managed just two fifties so far.
Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya, known for their cameos in the death overs, have not wielded the willow as freely as they would like to.
Suryakumar Yadav has been the only bright spot with 283 runs in eight games.
In bowling, the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell McClenaghan, the Pandya brothers and spinner Mayank Markande have failed to click as a unit.
Despite losing their last game, KXIP are sure to pose a tough challenge to Rohit’s side. One more loss and MI’s playoff hopes will be over.