While responding to a query on Hardik Pandya’s fitness, Mumbai Indians bowling coach Shane Bond had stressed last week the franchise was “balancing the needs of our team with Team India as well” ahead of the T20 World Cup.

Considering the wobbly form of its middle-order - especially that of Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan - the franchise, and possibly national selectors, would be hoping for a quick turnaround of fortunes for the duo to keep its Indian Premier League (IPL) title defence alive.

The pair’s performance will be under scanner as MI takes on Punjab Kings in a must-win affair for both the teams. Forget about setting the IPL stage alight - as they have consistently done for the last three seasons, Suryakumar and Ishan have continued to misfire on either side of the suspension.

No wonder then that the duo’s lack of runs has been a major factor in MI losing three games in a row since resumption and have slid to the seventh spot. While Suryakumar has tallied 17 runs off 29 balls in three innings in UAE, Ishan has scored 33 off 32.

While MI would be hoping for the T20 World Cup-bound batters to fire along with burly hitters in Pandya brothers and Kieron Pollard, K.L. Rahul’s Kings would be eager to hold on to key moments, as they did against Sunrisers over the weekend and keep themselves in the hunt for a Playoff berth.

If Chris Gayle comes into his element come Tuesday night, it could spell doom for Mumbai Indians, who are yet to win a game in the second leg of IPL 2021.