Punjab Kings (PBKS) resume their rivalry against the Mumbai Indians (MI) in IPL 2021 at the MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Friday. Currently, Punjab Kings languish at the bottom of the table with only two points, while Mumbai are positioned fourth with four points.
The latter half of the IPL is usually considered to be the business end of the tournament. However, these mid-stage matches have their own relevance.
Often, teams can consolidate their position at the top. At the same time, some might have the misfortune of losing too many games at the start of the season and are left with too much to do at the end.
The two sides will be looking to improve their position on the IPL points table when they meet in Chennai. Both PBKS and MI lost in their respective previous outings at the venue.
Punjab Kings played for the first time at Chepauk this season against the Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) on Wednesday. They found the going tough and were dismissed for a lowly total of 120 runs. Mumbai Indians were also restricted to a modest 137/9 by the Delhi Capitals (DC) in their previous encounter at Chepauk on Tuesday. Both SRH and DC were able to chase down their respective targets with relative ease.
The bowling department for each team will have an important role to play in Friday's game. Let's take a look at 3 bowlers who are expected to do well in this contest.
1. Murugan Ashwin
Murugan Ashwin had his best IPL season last year. He picked up 10 wickets at an average of 23.5 and his economy rate stood at a decent 7.46. His start to IPL 2021 has been far from impressive but we must consider two of his first three games taking place in a more batting-friendly Mumbai.
The Tamil Nadu spinner has now returned to familiar home conditions. He looked impressive against SRH in his previous game at Chepauk, giving away just 22 runs off his 4 overs
The MI batsmen have struggled against the likes of Amit Mishra and Rashid Khan in recent matches. Skipper Rohit Sharma's history of struggles against leg-spin might prompt KL Rahul to introduce Murugan Ashwin early on in the innings.
2. Jasprit Bumrah
Jasprit Bumrah's IPL 2021 has started rather calmly. He has taken 4 wickets at an average of 25 and an economy rate of 6.25 this season. For any other bowler these numbers would be deemed decent, but they don't meet the expectations of Bumrah's own high standards.
The ever-useful Gujarat bowler couldn't effectively contribute against the Delhi Capitals in his previous game, which eventually resulted in a loss for the Mumbai Indians.
Bumrah has been the leading wicket-taker for Mumbai Indians in their last three successful IPL campaigns and the MI management will hope he returns to his best sooner rather than later.
In IPL 2020, Bumrah picked 5 up wickets against Punjab at an average of 8.4. He will be eager to repeat such a performance as the two teams lock horns this season.
3. Rahul Chahar
While a number of bowlers, including Trent Boult (6 wickets at an average of 19) have been impressive for MI this season, Rahul Chahar is the leading wicket-taker for the Mumbai side in IPL 2021.
He has picked up 8 wickets at an average of 13.75 and an economy rate of 7.33. The numbers indicate his effectiveness at the venue as MI have played every match this season in Chennai.
Chahar absolutely wrecked the opposition in two recent MI wins. He picked up 4/27 against KKR, dismissing their top four batters. In the game against SRH, he picked up 3/19. This included crucial breakthroughs in the 15th over which turned the game in Mumbai's favor.
Rahul Chahar is no stranger to pressure situations in the IPL. He has improved with each season and now features regularly in the MI starting XI.
He has done well against Punjab in his short IPL career and will look to continue his form in their next encounter.