It will be top versus bottom in IPL 2020 when second-placed Mumbai Indians face last-placed Kings XI Punjab in Match 36 at the Dubai International Stadium.
Mumbai are on a roll, having won their last five matches in a row. Overall, they have six wins in eight games, and have accumulated 12 points. Both their batting and bowling are in fine shape. In their previous match, they bulldozed KKR by eight wickets, as the latter crumbled under Mumbai’s might.
KXIP did manage to win their last match against RCB, and they should be pleased with the same. However, they have a long way to go as they almost stumbled against Bangalore at the end despite having the match in control.
With MI looking to continue their winning streak, and KXIP desperate to stay alive, here are three player battles from the match to watch out for.
1. Chris Gayle vs Jasprit Bumrah
Universe Boss Chris Gayle showed the world what Kings XI Punjab had been missing all along in the batting order with a smashing half-century in his very first match for the franchise this season.
Gayle began slowly against RCB, but once he got his eye in, was unstoppable as he slammed five sixes in his 53 before being run out. The knock reiterated that, even at 41, Gayle remains a force to reckon with at the T20 level.
With Mumbai having a strong bowling line-up, Gayle could come in to bat early, and is likely to have a face-off with one of the world's top pacemen in Jasprit Bumrah.
Having not played a lot of international cricket of late, Gayle might not be well-accustomed to the unorthodox style of Bumrah’s bowling. It will thus be a new challenge for the spirited Gayle. Bumrah may look to unsettle Gayle with pace and bounce, and the veteran West Indian will have to be on his toes, quite literally.
2. Suryakumar Yadav vs Murugan Ashwin
Even among stars like skipper Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and the Pandya brothers, the unheralded Suryakumar Yadav has managed to make his mark in the Mumbai line-up. This year as well, Yadav has impressed with his sublime stroke-making. In eight games, the hardworking cricketer has managed to post 243 runs at an excellent strike rate of 151.87.
He gifted his wicket away in a couple of games earlier in the tournament. However, Yadav has learnt from his mistakes and has put a price tag on his wicket since.
Even as KXIP have struggled in the bowling department, leggie Murugan Ashwin has done a credible job in the limited opportunities that he has had. The Tamil Nadu spinner has claimed six wickets from three matches at a strike rate of 8.50 and an economy rate of 7.05.
He has not allowed the batsmen to get away, bringing his variations to good effect. In the victory against RCB, Ashwin sent back Aaron Finch and Washington Sundar. Ashwin won’t have it easy against the in-form Yadav, but he should be confident of putting up a fight.
3. Quinton de Kock vs Mohammed Shami
After a poor start to the tournament, Quinton de Kock has been in sublime form of late. He has three half-centuries in his last four innings, and put up a man of the match-winning performance against KKR, slamming an unbeaten 78 from 44 balls.
De Kock looked in complete control during his innings and seems to be peaking just at the right time. The Mumbai Indians wicketkeeper-batsman has notched up excellent numbers -- 269 runs in eight games at a strike rate of 151.97. He will look to continue the great work against KXIP.
Punjab pacer Mohammed Shami may have struggled at the death, but he has consistently picked up early wickets in his first spell. He dismissed Rahul Tripathi cheaply in the game against KKR, and something similar will be expected of him against de Kock.
However, the Indian pacer will be up against a much greater quality of batsmanship versus Mumbai, with de Kock leading the charge. Shami though has the expertise to compete on even terms. However, he must bring all his experience into play against the South African opener.Published 18 Oct 2020, 18:31 IST