IPL 2018: Desperate Mumbai Indians takes on confident Kings XI

This has been a season of disappointment for the loyal Mumbai Indians fans; it could manage only two wins from eight games, while Kings XI Punjab has won five out of seven.

With just two wins from eight games, Mumbai Indians is placed right at the bottom of the IPL 2018 table.   -  AP

The Holkar Cricket Stadium, with its lights switched on, presented a lovely sight from up above the sky as the aircraft descended on the Indore Airport on Wednesday night. A young woman showed her little son the ground and said cheerfully, “Mumbai Indians will be playing Kings XI Punjab there.” In a much less enthusiastic tone, she added, “However, the team keeps on losing.”

This has indeed been a season of disappointment for the loyal MI fans, like her. To say that Rohit Sharma’s men have underperformed would be an understatement. With just two wins from eight games, it is placed right at the bottom of the table.

 

A year ago, it was in a much happier frame of mind that it came to this historic city, in central India, which is also known for its food, especially of the street variety. It had arrived, here, having scored five back-to-back wins. It made it six in a row and went on to win the title.

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Now, it is staring at elimination, as it takes on an in-form host. And the KXIP men will play the first of their four matches at their second home, feeling refreshed after a week’s break.

Key men like Chris Gayle, who has an unreal-looking average of 126 and an unsurprising strike-rate of 161.53 from his four matches, would be keen to resume his normal service of slaughtering the bowlers, after spending the last few days enjoying seafood on the backwaters of Kerala.

He isn’t the only KXIP opener the rival has to worry about this season; K.L. Rahul too has been in sublime form, after hitting the IPL’s fastest 50 in his team’s first match.

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Captain Ravichandran Ashwin has also been able to get the best out of his bowlers. Pacers Andrew Tye and Ankit Rajpoot, and teenaged Afghan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman have been amongst the wickets and could pose problems for the inconsistent batting line-up of MI.

However, Aaron Finch indicated that his team was not going to take the three-time champion lightly. “They have a lot of match-winners, with both the bat and the ball,” the hard-hitting Aussie batsman said.

MI badly needs those big stars like Rohit, Evin Lewis, Hardik Pandya, Keiron Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah to be more consistent as it embarks upon its own near MI (Mission Impossible) to stay on in this hugely popular league.