Kings XI Punjab nearly pulled a rabbit out of the hat against Sunrisers Hyderabad, but they will need more than one ace up their sleeve when they take on the formidable Mumbai Indians in Indore on Thursday (April 20).
Manan Vohra’s whirlwind 95 off 50 balls got the heart racing but, that aside, the batting was underwhelming at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal where Punjab went down by five runs on Monday. Glenn Maxwell promoted himself up the order and perished after two boundaries. The three other foreign players — Hashim Amla, Eoin Morgan and David Miller — together contributed 14 runs. It meant that Vohra’s innings was essentially a one-man show and while that may win the occasional match, it won’t work in the long run.
Having four overseas batsmen is also an admission that the side’s Indian contingent isn’t strong enough, and that puts the bowlers under considerable strain. If, even then, the batting is misfiring, that’s a serious concern for Punjab. Someone like Matt Henry could bolster the unit, but looks far more likely to spend the season on the sidelines. Ultimately, Punjab need to try a different tack and be less predictable.
After all, champion sides in the past — Mumbai being one of them — have all had a smart mix of Indian and foreign talent in the bowling department. For Mumbai, Mitchell McClenaghan has been a key cog in the attack along with Lasith Malinga. And while Jos Buttler and Kieron Pollard are match-winners in their own right, it’s Nitish Rana and Hardik Pandya that have been at the forefront.
Mumbai also have been fortunate that in four of the five games so far, they have won the toss and the match. The one defeat came when they lost the toss. It may not count for a whole lot, but Punjab, who could use a bit of luck, would hope that the spin of the coin goes in their favour, if nothing else.
Played 18. Punjab 9, Mumbai 9.
This will be the first time that these two sides meet at the Holkar Stadium.