The Punjab Kings have gotten themselves into familiar territory: the bottom of the table. They opened the account with a thrilling four-run win, but have gone on to lose convincingly thrice in a row. Luckily for them, Sanju Samson could not put enough bat behind the ball on the last ball of their tournament opener, or they might have been in the same winless territory that their rivals on Wednesday, Sunrises Hyderabad, were.
They have also been strange in setting targets. Yet to bat second in the tournament after four games, their scores – 221/6, 106/8, 195/4, 120/10 – are an illustration of their unpredictability. The Kings have shifted their base to Chennai from Mumbai for a couple of games and will be moving to Ahmedabad after facing Mumbai Indians on Friday (23 April 2021).
At Chepauk, where targets have been defended as the tracks becomes increasingly sluggish with the passage of time, and batsmen find it hard to slog the ball from the word go, Punjab waived the advantage after winning the toss against Hyderabad in their last encounter, tumbling out for an unimposing 120. It took their opponents over 18 to go across the line, despite the likes of Jonny Bairstow and David Warner operating in the middle, suggesting that perhaps 15-20 runs more in the total, and Punjab might have made the game theirs to lose.
To go by the pattern they have created, the upcoming game is the high-scoring turn, although, they quickly need to solve this blow-hot-blow-cold style with the bat. KL Rahul has got runs behind him but his strike rate concerns are back to haunt Punjab. Mayank Agarwal hammered a half-century but the rest of his outings have been far from what is expected from a batsman of his stature. Chris Gayle has not found his mojo either, while Nicholas Pooran, after two ducks and a nine, was run out without facing a ball against Hyderabad.
In a top-heavy time like theirs, it has come down to Deepak Hooda and Shahrukh Khan, who has twice taken his team past the three-digit mark, but there is only that much he can do without any support from batsmen around him. Every loss from here will increase the Kings’ burden to grapple with the things they are known to grapple towards the business end.
For a team that seemingly had no shortcomings whatsoever before the tournament started, Mumbai Indians have found themselves in a Catch-22 situation. They have played four games at the venue, and are bound to know the conditions better than their rivals tomorrow. While they have scripted magical turnarounds to secure two wins in games that they perhaps had no right to win, a misfiring middle-order continues to increase their worries as they move to Delhi for their upcoming four games.
Mumbai’s middle-order has made a reputation of being consistent and keeping aside Quinton de Kock, who marginally struggles against spin, all of Rohit Sharma, Ishan Kishan, Suryakumar Yadav, Pandyas, and Pollard are adept maneuvers of spin. Despite that, Kishan has labored in the middle, Yadav has gotten off to promising starts before failing to capitalize, while both Hardik and Krunal are yet to make an impact, let alone the impact they are expected or known to make.
Even as they move to Delhi, the conditions for them would not change too drastically as compared to Chennai. Their next two bases (Kolkata and Bangalore) assure them quicker wickets and shorter boundaries. While that in turn could mean a strong finish, a team like them would not want to take things that deep.
The 2-2 result in the Chennai leg looks satisfactory for the Indians. 3-2 by the end of the next encounter would not mean that they pass this leg with flying colors, although the opposite of it would leave them with a bundle of worries before boarding flights to Delhi.
Pitch and conditions
Contrary to the pattern of targets being defended, the last two encounters have seen successful chases. Although, doing that has not been easy even one bit. Hyderabad took 18.4 overs to chase 120, while Delhi Capitals reached 138 in the final over of the chase. A strong start with the bat remains the key, and despite the last two results, teams would prefer making the most out of the track batting first.
Playing Combinations for PBKS vs MI
Kings brought in Moises Henriques, Fabien Allen, and M Ashwin at the expense of Riley Meredith, Jhye Richardson, and Jalaj Saxena in the last game. The changes made complete sense given that they are no longer playing in Mumbai, although neither of those could contribute much. The upcoming one is their second and last game at the venue. While Ravi Bishnoi could be considered at Ashwin’s spot, it remains unlikely that they will change. The only area with a possible tinkering is Chris Gayle’s spot, where the management might want to give Dawid Malan a look-in.
Predicted XI: KL Rahul (C&WK), Mayank Agarwal, Chris Gayle/Dawid Malan, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Hooda, Moises Henriques, Shahrukh Khan, Fabien Allen, Murugan Ashwin, Mohammad Shamim Arshdeep Singh
They are unlikely to change.
Predicted XI: Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Jayant Yadav, Rahul Chahar, Jaspirt Bumrah, Trent Boult
PBKS vs MI Head to Head
Played – 26 | Punjab Kings – 12 | Mumbai Indians – 14
PBKS vs MI Broadcast Details
Match Timings – 7:30 PM IST
TV – Star Sports Network
Live Streaming – Disney+Hotstar
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