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Can Mumbai halt Punjab's unbeaten run and score first win?

Last updated on: May 02, 2014 16:06 IST

Can Mumbai halt Punjab's unbeaten run and score first win?

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Title-holders Mumbai Indians are keen to end their dismal five-match losing streak, but the task is easier said than done as they clash with table toppers Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League match at the Wankhede Stadium, in Mumbai, on Saturday. 

- IPL-7: The BEST performances from the UAE leg

The stadium was a mini fortress which could not be breached in eight attempts last year as Mumbai Indians went all the way to clinch the title for the first time.

With the IPL action shifting to India after the initial phase in the UAE, Mumbai Indians are eager to turn around their floundering fortunes after suffering five straight defeats in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. 

Kings XI Punjab, however, will be equally earnest to ensure that their five-match winning streak in the UAE is not snapped by last year's champions. 

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Image: Mumbai Indians players celebrate after taking a wicket
Photographs: BCCI

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Mumbai's batting has failed miserably

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Punjab have batted, bowled and fielded extremely well in the first phase of the T20 League, and another victory at the cost of the struggling Mumbai Indians will only enhance their already bright hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals.

It is Mumbai's batting more than their bowling that has caused their slump thus far in the tournament. 

They tried out a few opening combinations and failed miserably, with captain Rohit Sharma, his Mumbai Ranji Trophy teammate Aditya Tare, former Australia batsman Mike Hussey and new signing Ben Dunk, also an Aussie, all failing to get going.

The middle order too performed dismally, barring the last game against Sun Risers Hyderabad at Dubai when Kieron Pollard at last found form and scored a blistering 78 off only 48 balls, including six sixes and three fours. 

But the powerfully built West Indian all-rounder's stupendous effort went in vain as Mumbai Indians slumped to a 15-run defeat, chasing Sunrisers Hyderabad's challenging score of 172.

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Image: Rohit Sharma hits a shot
Photographs: BCCI

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Mumbai's bowlers fared only slightly better

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For Mumbai Indians to get their floundering campaign on track, all the top order batsmen need to find form quickly. 

While their batting was a big let-down, the bowlers fared only slightly better, with Sri Lanka's World T20-winning captain Lasith Malinga (eight wickets), Zaheer Khan (also eight) and former captain Harbhajan Singh (two wickets with economical bowling) being the pick of the lot. 

New Zealand all rounder Corey Anderson has performed miserably with both bat and ball, while spinner Pragyan Ojha was also disappointing, but will be happy to bowl on the Wankhede wicket that normally assists both spin and pace. 

The problem with Mumbai is that their bench strength is not great. They will be hoping that new inclusion Lendl Simmons of the West Indies justifies his signing.

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Image: Lasith Malinga being congratulated by Mumbai Indians teammates after taking a wicket
Photographs: BCCI

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Maxwell aggregates 300 runs, and Miller 155!

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Punjab, on the other hand, are sitting pretty as the only unbeaten team in the league.

For this top perch, they are indebted to Australian Glen Maxwell, who struck two brilliant 90s and another 89 in the UAE leg of the tournament.

Maxwell (300 runs from 5 games) and David Miller (155) helped Punjab get off to a flying start in their first two games against former two-time champions Chennai Super Kings and 2008 winners Rajasthan Royals.

When the duo failed later, Virender Sehwag chipped in with two 30-plus scores in low-scoring games.

Captain George Bailey, also a fine T20 batsman, was not required to do much.

In short, they have top-class batting.

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Image: David Miller and Glenn Maxwell have been in top form
Photographs: BCCI

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Mitchell Johnson opened the bowling well

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Australia pace spearhead Mitchell Johnson and Sandeep Sharma have opened the bowling well and received good support from the experienced Laxmipathy Balaji and Rishi Dhawan. 

But the spin department appears a bit stretched with young left arm spinner Akshar Patel impressing with his wicket-taking (6 wickets) ability and economy, though former India bowler Murali Karthik, who was benched in four games, has more experience.


Image: Mitchell Johnson is congratulated by Punjab teammates after taking a wicket
Photographs: BCCI

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