It’s top versus bottom in the Indian Premier League on Tuesday as the Mumbai Indians welcome a beleaguered Kings XI Punjab side to the Brabourne Stadium. The Mumbai Indians are top of the IPL log whilst Kings XI Punjab are bottom and home side are favorites.
The Kings XI have won just 1 game from 6, and find themselves all alone at the bottom of the league with just 2 points to their name, that too coming from a game where they were outplayed for 30 of the 40 overs.
Mumbai in contrast are the complete opposites of Punjab, winning 5 of their 6 games so far and sitting pretty on their lonesome at the top of the league with 10 points. They will be hoping to hit the half-way stage of the tournament with the added cushion of another two points, and the knowledge that a semi-final spot is pretty much in the bag.
Tendulkar is leading from the front and he is just behind Jacques Kallis in the leading run scorer chart, averaging 60.60 at a strike rate of 145. The 303 runs Tendulkar has scored so far puts him way ahead of his team mates, Tiwary is second on the Mumbai batting list and has looked very useful at times but although Harbhajan Singh crashed a rapid 49 at the weekend, Tendulkar is the glue that holds the batting together. Sachin’s two lowest scores were 17 against the Royals (where Mumbai scraped home) and 25 against RCB (where they suffered their only defeat).
If teams are to beat Mumbai in the IPL this year, they will need to adopt the Douglas Jardine style of thinking where his sole point of attack was how to counter Don Bradman. With the exception of Saurabh Tiwary, the rest of the Mumbai batting has failed to fire, however, such has been Sachin’s contribution that they have not yet really needed to. Imagine a Keiron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo finding form as the IPL wears on, and it can only spell doom and gloom for the opposition bowlers.
If you are looking for a chink in the Mumbai stats so far, it may that if you can get Tendulkar early, you certainly out yourself in with a shout. With the ball, Harbhajan (8) Zaheer Khan (6) and Malinga (6) have taken the vast majority of the wickets though Dwayne Bravo with just two wickets has been on the expensive side. A confident Bhajji is almost impossible to keep down, while Zaheer and Malinga between them can run through most teams, indicating a tough visit ahead for Kings XI Punjab.
As for the Kings XI, I was of the opinion that they would turn the corner and have backed them in both their last two games which came against The Royals and the Knight Riders. They failed to deliver on both occasions and their only win to date remains the Super over victory against the Super Kings.
A look at their tournament stats so far in the batting department shows the big guns misfiring. Kumar Sangakkara’s struggles with the bat make him a liability to the side on present form is averaging 18.2, Yuvraj Singh 16.5 and Jayawardene 16.4. The reality check is that Sangakkara and Jayawardene are taking two of the four foreign spots and have combined scored less than the Mumbai Indian’s Saurabh Tiwary in twice as many visits to the center. Sangakkara’s suspension may be a blessing in disguise, and surely Mahela must be dropped. The younger Pathan has been in good form with the bat, and is the second highest scorer for his team. Shaun Marsh, winner of the orange cap in season 1 should make the team in place of Sangakkara, but the Australian has not played much cricket over the last few weeks, and might just be a touch out of form.
With the ball, Rusty Juan Theron has played just two games so far but has an outstanding economy rate of 5.25 from his eight overs. Brett Lee has a game under his belt and should be approaching full fitness but the Kings XI need improvement in all disciplines. If it is not forthcoming, they are in danger of being cut adrift as far as the points table is concerned and they also have to face the Royal Challengers later this week.
Mumbai Indians (WWWLW)
DC vs. MI – MI won 46 by runs
MI vs. CSK – MI won by 5 wickets
MI vs. KKR – MI won by 7 wickets
MI vs. RCB – RCB won by by 7 wickets
DD vs. MI – MI won by 98 runs
Kings XI Punjab (LLWLL)
KXIP vs. KKR – KKR won by 39 runs
KXIP vs. RR – RR won by 31 runs
CSK vs. KXIP – KXIP win in Super Over
DC vs. KXIP – DC won by 6 runs
RCB vs. KXIP – RCB won by 8 wickets
Punjab amazingly bring a 3-1 record against the Indians into Tuesday’s encounters. The Kings XI won their first three meetings with Sachin’s men, before Mumbai arrested the slide with a thumping 8 wicket destruction of Kings XI at Centurion the last time these two sides met. Their only meeting in Mumbai in the inaugural season saw Kings XI win a high scoring encounter by just 1 run.
This should be an easy win for Mumbai, could really be Slaughter-house 6. However, history is full of those mythical moments when a team trod and beaten has risen like a phoenix from its own ashes and knocked over the favourites, and Kings XI would really need such a fairytale to come true if they are to challenge Mumbai in their own backyard. Harbhajan stated that Mumbai wanted to become the first team to book a berth in the semifinals and if they continue to play the way they have done so far they would be hard to stop, least of all by a struggling Punjab.