This season’s IPL is proving to be an extremely competitive one, six out of the eight teams are either equal or within two points of each other as we approach the halfway mark. Both the Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab are coming off wins against a stunned-Sunrisers Hyderabad who seem to have lost their golden-touch in the competition. With the standings being so tightly-contested, this is a huge game for both these sides.
It was a win that Mumbai will no-doubt cherish forever, and it might have just given them the confidence they needed to go on and achieve bigger and better things this season. Defeating Hyderabad by 40 runs in the end, it was a dream-debut for 22-year-old West Indian quick Alzarri Joseph who embarrassed the hosts as he ran riot through their batting line-up. Joseph ended the match with insane figures of 6/12 off his 3.4 overs, he now holds the record for the IPL’s best bowling figures in a match. Mumbai’s bowling that night was superb, not only from Joseph but also the likes of Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar and Jason Behrendorff who also kept Hyderabad’s batsmen relatively-subdued. Returning to Sri Lanka to compete in the Provincial limited overs tournament ahead of the World Cup, Lasith Malinga will miss Mumbai’s upcoming game against Kings XI but is expected to be available for the rest of the IPL after April 11. It’s hard to see them making any changes to a bowling attack that restricted Hyderabad to 96.
Wielding the axe on Yuvraj Singh who started the tournament on fire, Mumbai have sent a very clear message that numerous failures won’t be tolerated. Clearly a player of Rohit Sharma’s calibre doesn’t live by those rules, but he probably needs to take a look at his own perfromances and realise that an average of 23.60 isn’t good enough. As much as I hate to say it, Rohit has lost his IPL magic with the willow. This is the third-consecutive season he finds himself averaging 23, that’s laughable when you compare him to the likes of Kohli, de Villiers and Dhoni. Mumbai don’t have any standout-performers with the bat in IPL 12, it’s been more along the lines of one individual standing up in each match. They’ll be hoping that Quinton de Kock can put on a show for the Wankhede crowd tomorrow, he’s made a heap of starts without continuing on.
Kings XI Punjab
KL Rahul’s return to form in the IPL is what’s making headlines, the talented right-hander is averaging 106 in his past four matches and looks set to take Punjab to the top of the table in the near-future. Connect the dots, Rahul has scored three half centuries in his last four innings, and Kings XI have won three out of their last four games. They just look such a strong batting unit this season, Chris Gayle provides the big-hitting and X factor at the top of the order alongside the red-hot KL Rahul who’s produced three 50+ scores in a matter of no time. Their middle-order has been just as dynamic, both Mayank Agarwal (184 runs) and Sarfaraz Khan (165 runs) are proving to be key contributors along with the experienced David Miller peppering the rope at No. 5. It’s fair to say that Mumbai’s Alzarri Jospeh has his work cut out for him against this powerful line-up.
The fact that the classy-Karun Nair is yet to play a game signifies Punjab’s dominance, now they just need to find some consistency with the ball in hand. Experienced Indian-duo Ravi Ashwin and Mohammed Shami have been Kings XI’s most utilized bowlers in IPL 12, they do however have better wicket-taking options. After a sluggish-start to the tournament, the skipper is finally starting to string together some good performances with the ball which is a promising sign for both Ravichandran and his side. The decision to not play Ankit Rajpoot after picking up 2/33 in the first match was dumbfounding and just a horrendous call in general. Now that he’s back in the side, Kings XI must give him a decent run before dropping the axe on him again. Andrew Tye who was the leading wicket-taker in IPL 11 has struggled significantly in 2019 which explains why he’s played just three games, and Afghani spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman hasn’t been at his damaging best either. Punjab is just crying out for a genuine wicket-taking option to accommodate their in-form batting unit.
Top 4 fantasy picks – Mumbai Indians
- Suryakumar Yadav
- Quinton de Kock
- Alzarri Joseph
- Kieron Pollard
Wildcard pick – Ishan Kishan
Top 4 fantasy picks – Kings XI Punjab
- KL Rahul
- Ravi Ashwin
- Chris Gayle
- Mohammed Shami
Wildcard pick – Ankit Rajpoot
Mumbai Indians (possible) – 1. Ishan Kishan 2. Quinton de Kock (wk) 3. Rohit Sharma © 4. Suryakumar Yadav 5. Kieron Pollard 6. Hardik Pandya 7. Krunal Pandya 8. Rahul Chahar 9. Alzarri Joseph 10. Jason Behrendorff 11. Jasprit Bumrah.
Kings XI Punjab (possible) – 1. KL Rahul (wk) 2. Chris Gayle 3. Mayank Agarwal 4. Sarfaraz Khan 5. David Miller 6. Mandeep Singh 7. Sam Curran/Hardus Viljoen 8. Ravi Ashwin © 9. Mohammed Shami 10. Mujeeb Ur Rahman 11. Ankit Rajpoot.
Zak Varik is an Australian columnist/writer who specializes in the sports category cricket. With over four years of experience covering all sorts of cricket tournaments around the world, Zak has gained extensive knowledge in International cricket as well as domestic.
“I’ve loved watching cricket since I was about 7 years old, my childhood hero was none other than Andrew “Roy” Symonds who probably enhanced my love of the game through the years”.
Zak is now an established writer for FCN (Fantasy Cricket News) and has also previously represented other Blogs during his time as a writer.