Mumbai Indians’ bowling coach Shane Bond and Trent Boult chat during a training session. Courtesy: Twitter
Mohammad Abdullah, Staff Reporter
Both Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians (MI) will look to bounce back from their defeat and return to winning ways in the Indian Premier League (IPL) when the two giants face off in Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
Both Punjab and Mumbai put up valiant fights before going down to Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) respectively.
Owing to the stupendous forms of captain KL Rahul and Mayank Agarwal, Punjab have surfaced in the tournament as a batting powerhouse.
Rahul and Agarwal shared a 183-run stand for the first wicket against Rajasthan to lay the foundation for the highest first innings total in the 2020 edition of the tournament.
Agarwal went on to score a blitzkrieg century off just 50 deliveries, hitting 10 fours and seven sixes and Rahul smacked a 54-ball 69 to assert their batting prowess against a hapless Rajasthan bowling attack.
Punjab will hope Rahul and Agarwal yet again deliver their masterclass against Mumbai. Rahul, who has amassed 222 in three innings with a century and a fifty at an average of 73, tops the chart of the highest scorers in IPL 2020.
Following in the footsteps of his captain, Agarwal also hit a century and a fifty to move to the second spot with 221 runs. Most of the Punjab batting will revolve around the two openers with Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell and West Indian Nicholas Pooran adding more stability to the middle order.
Punjab have posted a total of 586 in three matches with a first-innings average of 195. However, their bowling will be a concern for Punjab as they failed to defend a mammoth total of 223 against a resolute Rajasthan.
Mohammad Shami, their pace spearhead, has taken seven wickets in three innings, the same as Kagiso Rabada of Delhi Capitals, who tops the chart due to his better average.
Ravi Bishnoi can rightly be called the discovery of IPL 2020 as the wily spinner conceded a parsimonious 34 in his four overs during the match in which more than 440 runs were scored.
Besides the eight overs of Shami and Bishnoi, Punjab will have to look at other options, those who can at best check the flow of runs if not take wickets. Sheldon Cottrell, who was hit for a whopping 30 runs by Rahul Tewatia of Rajasthan, may face the axe and be replaced by Ishan Porel in the next match if the team management picks a pacer for a pacer.
Meanwhile, Mumbai, the four- time champions, are one of the top contenders. After their match against Bangalore, they seem to be pressing their cause even more passionately.
Ishan Kishan emerged as a new potential match-winner after a valiant effort against Bangalore. He along with Kieron Pollard nearly pulled off an unlikely victory after amassing a whopping 90 runs in 24 balls before the match was forced into the Super Over.
Kishan, who hit a 50-ball 99, adds more dimension to their star-studded batting line-up, which features Rohit Sharma Quinton De Kock, Pollard and hard-hitters like Hardik Pandya. Mumbai bowling coach Shane Bond said his team would have to keep Rahul in check.
“Rahul has scored runs against us in the last few games, he is brilliant, a dynamic player who can score all over the ground.”
“We also know that he takes his time during the middle overs. So it will be an opportunity for us to create pressure on him if he gets that far in his innings against us,” Bond said in a virtual press conference.
“In the end, we cannot let him score in his favourite areas. We have a quality bowling attack, so we have to put him under pressure.
“We are confident of the ability of our batting line-up who have scored runs in all our matches. We are aware about the conditions as we have played two matches here,” he added.
Mumbai Indians have two points from three games. According to Bond, adapting to the conditions in Abu Dhabi is something which Mumbai would aim to work upon.
“Look, I think what we are trying to do is adapt to the conditions. When you turn up in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, you have some idea as to how it will play, looking at the history, but the fact is that you have to adapt as quick you can,” he added.
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