IPL: Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab Preview

Cricketer hits ball

The Mumbai Indians and the Kings XI Punjab clash in what will be a crucial fixture in determining the race for play-off places. 

Mumbai's title defence remains on track, but only just. If they lose another game, it'll be all over. They beat Punjab less than two weeks ago, which bodes well for Wednesday.

Punjab were humiliated by the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday - and haven't won a match in their last three attempts. A swift turnaround is required if they are to make the play-offs.

MI vs KXIP | Wednesday 16 May | Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai | 16:30

To Win Match
Mumbai Indians 66/100
Tie 35/1 
Kings XI Punjab 5/4

Mumbai Indians
Mumbai achieved a relatively easy win over the Kolkata Knight Riders, but were then comfortably beaten by the Rajasthan Royals. These results typify a rather seesaw campaign for the defending champions, who are effectively just one loss away from being ruled out of contention for a play-off berth.

Homegrown gems like Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav are performing consistently well, while bigger names in Rohit Sharma and Evin Lewis need to be delivering more on cue. Opportunity knocks against a Punjab attack rather shell-shocked in the wake of heavy defeat against Bangalore - and potentially minus the services of injured leg-spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman again.

Their bowling department is well balanced, with pace aces Mitchell McClenaghan and Jasprit Bumrah tasked with the new ball before brothers Hardik and Krunal Pandya enter the fray. They used five bowlers in defeat to Rajasthan and six in triumph over Kolkata, so where seamer Ben Cutting slots in - if at all - is as integral as ever.

Mumbai have lost twice as many games as they've won at their beloved Wankhede Stadium this season - a poor ratio they'd dearly like to narrow on Wednesday. For consecutive years, they've traded victories with Punjab. The last time either won both games of the season was in 2014. Mumbai, then, are eager to repeat that success.

Kings XI Punjab
If Ur Rahman isn't fit to play, South African batsman David Miller might get a game ahead of Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who was the injury replacement earlier this week. Miller's presence would strengthen the order but weaken the attack, which was hardly tested in the mere eight overs and one delivery bowled against Bangalore.

A lengthier challenge awaits in Mumbai, where captain Ravichandran Ashwin really needs to rediscover his mojo as a new captain. Losing matches and not delivering many runs or wickets has the Indian Test all-rounder consistently questioned at domestic T20 selection level. One or two more failures could see him inclined to follow a similar path to Delhi's Gautam Gambhir, who eventually fell on his proverbial sword.

Their last victory was almost two weeks ago, against the Royals. Opener KL Rahul was important then - and could be equally as instrumental this time. West Indian big-hitter Chris Gayle, too, has to get back into groove. He averaged more than 200 through his first three games of the 2018 IPL, but has since slumped to scores of just eight, one, 21 and 18.

Mumbai, like Bangalore, should be mindful of striking early. The opening six overs will arguably be the most important of the innings, when the removal of one or both of Rahul and Gayle could expose the rest. Virat Kohli didn't mince his words about how Punjab lack support around those two - and it's entirely evident at the moment.

Verdict: Mumbai Indians 66/100
A late surge for the reigning champs should bring another victory, while Punjab are resigned to a fourth consecutive defeat, as their push for the play-offs is further derailed.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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