IPL 2021 preview: Struggling Punjab set for Mumbai Indians challenge

With three losses on the trot, the Kings are seventh in the table. MI’s defeat against Delhi Capitals has raised questions about its middle-order.

With the conditions getting tougher for batting in Chennai, skipper K.L. Rahul (left) and Mayank Agarwal need to start well.   -  SPORTZPICS

Defending champion Mumbai Indians will hope to get its IPL-14 campaign back on track against the struggling Punjab Kings at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Friday.

MI’s defeat against Delhi Capitals has raised questions about its middle-order. Against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Capitals, Mumbai’s batting never hit top gear in the middle overs.

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It has been undone by the slowness of the Chepauk surface, with the lack of power-hitting from Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya compounding the woes. Pollard has 49 runs from four matches and Hardik, 35. Suryakumar Yadav’s 56 against Kolkata Knight Riders remains the highest score by a MI batsman this season.

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However, with Jasprit Bumrah among wickets and Trent Boult in form, Mumbai's bowling has enough strength. They have generally used two spinners: Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar. But against Delhi, Jayant Yadav got a chance. Mumbai might persist with the same combination against PBKS.

With three losses on the trot, the Kings are seventh in the table. In Chennai, with the conditions getting tougher for batting, skipper K.L. Rahul and Mayank Agarwal need to start well.

Rahul and Chris Gayle are slow starters, so there could be a case for Nicholas Pooran at No. 3. Their inexperienced middle-order is masked by Deepak Hooda and Shahrukh Khan’s power-hitting.

In the bowling department, there was an expected departure from the pace-heavy attack. Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith did not play the last match. Leg-spinner M Ashwin got a look in, and Ravi Bishnoi is waiting in the ranks.

It's still early days, but PBKS would want to arrest their slide against a settled MI.

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