In 2015, Mumbai Indians were put under the pump after losses against Punjab Kings (Kings XI Punjab then), Kolkata Knight Riders, Rajasthan Royals and Chennai Super Kings in their first four encounters of the season. In 2022, they have repeated the curse, with losses at the hands of Delhi Capitals, Rajasthan Royals, Kolkata Knight Riders and Royal Challengers Bangalore.
But the stark difference was in 2015, they not only went on to make the playoffs but won the title in stunning fashion, going past rivals CSK. However, IPL 2022 is a tough nut to crack, especially considering there are ten contenders for the title. Having said that, if there is one team that would be confident of making the playoffs even at this stage, it would be Rohit Sharma’s side.
However, in front of them are Punjab Kings, a side that have threateningly transformed themselves for the title. Their brand of cricket is different – it is on your face – and when most of the teams try to put their hands into the flame, they get burnt. Even at their aggressive self, Punjab have made some mistakes, smaller ones, that have cost them two games.
Will Mumbai figure out their best XI?
One of the biggest talking points thus far in the tournament has been Mumbai’s indifferent team selection. The 26-year-old Singaporean Tim David, who was considered as an MVP buy at the auction has been left out of the playing XI after just the two games in the tournament. While the franchise have stuck with Daniel Sams, the indifferent display from the Australian all-rounder has seen him drop to the bench after the third game.
While we are unsure on Tymal Mills, who was not in the playing XI for the RCB game, it begs the question: where is Mumbai going with this playing XI? In Dewald Brevis, Mumbai see a batter who can give them the solidarity in the middle-order, allowing the likes of Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma and Kieron Pollard to be their natural self.
Read: Mumbai Indians vs Punjab Kings, IPL 2022, Match 23: Fantasy Preview
However, that has in turn affected their bowling. Mumbai are just ahead of CSK and PBKS in terms of the worst bowling unit in the competition. Murugan Ashwin, the lone spinner, has picked up five wickets, showing the franchise the value of spin. It is in that regard, that they need to mull about a change, bringing either of Fabian Allen or Mayank Markande into the mix.
Punjab’s tricky situation with Odean Smith
Punjab’s batting approach has been refreshing to watch in this season’s IPL. They know how to time the ball, strike boundaries, clear boundaries and at the same time, make the fullest use of their batting resources. However, the situation around the 25-year-old Windies all-rounder Odean Smith has been tricky.
Thus far in the competition, Smith has played in four games, with a match-winning contribution with the bat in the franchise’s first game against RCB (25*). Barring that, however, he has figures of 0/52, 1/39, 1/14 and 0/35. While the 1/14 against CSK was mighty impressive, his failure at the death overs is slowly coming to the fore.
At the death, the all-rounder has conceded 36 runs without snapping a single wicket, leaking runs at 18 RPO. While the trio of Arshdeep Singh, Rahul Chahar and Kagiso Rabada have all been great, Punjab need to figure out how they can get the best out of Odean Smith. Otherwise, they will have to look at Nathan Ellis or Benny Howell, to fill that hole at the death.
How will Punjab’s aggression fare up against Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah’s presence would definitely come as a nightmare for the Punjab Kings, considering that he has picked up 19 wickets against them, averaging just 17.4, his second-best average against an IPL opponent. In three out of the last four encounters against Punjab, Bumrah has picked up at least a two-wicket haul, including a three in the Dubai clash in 2020.
Punjab’s skipper, Mayank Agarwal too doesn’t hold the best of records against Bumrah, with three dismissals against the Indian pacer and a strike-rate of just 43. Bumrah will be integral in this clash, especially considering his attacking nature with the ball, that could fight fire with fire.
It would be interesting to see how Livingstone, who has struck at a rate of 191 during the tournament fare up against the leader of Mumbai’s pace pack – Bumrah.
Team Combination and Predicted XI
Punjab have been bolstered by the return of Jonny Bairstow, who debuted for the franchise in their previous game. With that, expect either no changes or just the one change for the Punjab Kings, with Odean Smith’s form being a concern.
Punjab Kings XI: Mayank Agarwal (c), Shikhar Dhawan, Liam Livingstone, Jonny Bairstow, Jitesh Sharma (wk), Odean Smith, M Shahrukh Khan, Kagiso Rabada, Rahul Chahar, Vaibhav Arora, Arshdeep Singh
Predicting Mumbai’s playing XI this season has been tough. But considering their weakness, they could very well bring in Fabian Allen or Mayank Markande to strengthen their spin attack. Tymal Mills, who wasn’t in the playing XI for the previous game too could make a return, instead of Basil Thampi
Mumbai Indians XI: Ishan Kishan (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Dewald Brevis, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Kieron Pollard, Fabian Allen/Mayank Markande, Jaydev Unadkat, Murugan Ashwin, Jasprit Bumrah, Tymal Mills