New Delhi: Kings XI Punjab's Herculean task to carry themselves through all the way to the play-offs has become tougher as Glenn Maxwell's boys travel south to face happily-qualified Mumbai Indians at Wankhede Stadium, tonight.
A spell-bounding bowling effort from newbie Rahul Tewatia, later carried on by pacers Mohit Sharma and Sandeep Sharma in the death overs, helped Punjab beat Kolkata Knight Riders at Mohali. While the win ceased KKR's confirmation ticket for the next round, it did keep KXIP'S hope alive for the play-offs.
However, the task just gets tougher for Preity Zinta-owned team as they now need to overcome the mighty Mumbai team to keep the momentum going. Adding on to their concern, Mumbai snatched a stunning eight-wicket victory, comfortably easing past Punjab's 198, when the two last faced each other in Indore.
Mumbai's march this season has been absolutely smooth so far. Apart from the three bumps in their road, nothing has actually brought a frown on Rohit Sharma and his men in blues. With a win today, Mumbai will seal a top finish in the table, thus earning two chances to make the season finale.
Here are the players to look out for tonight...
Rohit Sharma: He indeed started off slow this season, returning after a long injury lay-off. But over the last six matches, the skipper displayed determination and picked up his game to notch up three half-centuries. With 250 runs in 12 matches, Rohit will be looking to follow Suresh Raina's feat of scoring 300+ runs in every IPL season.
Jasprit Bumrah: His unorthodox bowling action is what makes him look menacing. But what makes him even more deadlier is ability to bowl different kinds of deliveries, from vicious yorkers to accurate bounders. He sure is formidable bowler in the death overs. Over time, lengthy practice sessions with legendary Lasith Malinga has helped him grow better and better.
Kings XI Punjab
Glenn Maxwell: With this big boulder named Mumbai Indians lying in the middle of their path, it is important for Maxwell to step in and show off his wizardry with the bat. His crucial partnership with Wriddhiman Saha against KKR, helped his team get that big total. It is, thus, expected the Aussie to continue producing important knocks.
Axar Patel: He is probably one of the most underrated all-rounders in the game today. But Patel continues to come up with match-winning performances, with both bat and ball. His wicket taking abilities, and the hunger for runs are unrivaled. He is one player a team like KXIP can rely on at any given time.