Mumbai Indians and Punjab Kings go into Wednesday’s IPL 2023 match at the IS Bindra Stadium in Mohali facing similar challenges, and how they cope could decide the winner.
Keep the umbrellas and DLS sheets handy too, as there is currently a 70 percent chance of rain on match day. The teams trained under overcast skies on Tuesday.
Punjab got the better of Mumbai in their last meeting this season, with Arshdeep Singh bowling an excellent 20th over. But it’s in the same death bowling phase, where their skills are subjected to the most forensic examination, that MI and PBKS have generally struggled.
Among those who have sent down at least 18 balls in the death (17–20) overs in this edition, five of the 10 highest economy rates belong to MI and PBKS combined: MI’s Cameron Green (16.33), Jason Behrendorff (13.50), and Jofra Archer (11.66), and PBKS’s Nathan Ellis (14) and Kagiso Rabada (12.75). Both sides will need to make marked improvements in that area to avoid the same fate in Mohali.
Arshdeep’s battle with Tim David at the death could be decisive. David took down Jason Holder’s attempted wide yorkers in the last match against the Rajasthan Royals by stepping out and moving forward and across. It’ll be interesting to see how Arshdeep, who does rely on wide yorkers, counters this.
The dew may not be a big concern because of the overcast weather, but the side batting first would still eye an above-par score. Shikhar Dhawan and Prabhsimran Singh, the Kings openers, had a good outing against CSK last Sunday. Dhawan is a classical strokeplayer who gradually kicks into the higher gears, and Prabhsimran dovetails with him by trying to give aggressive starts. But PBKS will be wary of the fact that it has the second-lowest average for an opening pair this season (20.88).
Meanwhile, MI needs to find a way to give Tilak Varma and Suryakumar Yadav more time in the middle; sending them at 3 and 4 is an alternative. MI could also consider demoting an erratic Ishan Kishan (211 runs in eight matches at 128.65) and opening with Green.
Rohit Sharma’s performance against pace is another concern. He has struck at 115.05 against fast bowlers while averaging under 20, getting out six times in eight innings. Rohit has been particularly vulnerable in the PowerPlay, having been dismissed six times inside the first six overs.
Interestingly, Mumbai and Punjab’s strengths lie in their depth of batting. But the vigour of the power-hitters seems to have created dependency on them. And while the batting list may be long, only a few from either camp have shown a stamp of authority.
However, their respective last IPL meetings produced thrilling finishes that went in their favour, capped off by their primary strength, batting.
Mohali has usually been a batting-friendly surface with medium-sized boundaries. PBKS’s last home match here saw it concede 257 against the Lucknow Super Giants, the highest total this IPL season and the second-highest in the tournament’s history. Wednesday evening’s match could once again be a high-scoring affair, weather permitting.
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