The Punjab Kings (PBKS) will face off against Mumbai Indians (MI) on Friday at Chepauk in Chennai. Neither team has got off to the best of starts in the IPL 2021 season and will want to make this game count.
The PBKS bowlers were once again ineffective in their previous game against SRH, but this time their batsmen faltered as well and 121 was just a target too small to challenge the quality of David Warner and Jonny Bairstow.
MI also lost their previous encounter against DC as the defending champions continued to disappoint and turned in another poor batting display. Even their world-class bowling couldn't make a modest target like 138 look daunting against the likes of Shikhar Dhawan.
PBKS vs MI: 3 bowlers to watch out for
On a slow and sluggish track in Chennai, the batting of both teams is likely to be tested once again. In such situations, it could be a face-off between the bowling attacks of both sides. On that note, let's have a look at the three bowlers who can leave their mark in the PBKS vs MI encounter:
#3 Ravi Bishnoi
It is hard to understand how young leg-spinner Ravi Bishnoi hasn't got a game yet for PBKS. Given their struggles in the bowling department and the help leg-spinners have got on the Chennai track, Bishnoi could well get a game against the defending champions MI.
After emerging as the highest wicket-taker in the U19 World Cup in 2020 with 17 scalps to his name, Bishnoi was snapped up by the Punjab-based franchise for INR 2 crore. Under legendary Indian leg-spinner Anil Kumble's guidance, Bishnoi had a brilliant debut IPL season.
In 14 games, the 20-year-old picked up 12 wickets and was a genuine wicket-taking option for skipper KL Rahul whenever the PBKS skipper needed to break a partnership. He also bowled well in the powerplays and had formed a lethal combination with fellow leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin.
The duo helped the Kings XI Punjab (PBKS' former name) win five games on the trot last season. Thus, the PBKS team management should be keen to re-unite the spin-twins to give themselves the best possible chance to beat MI.
#2 Jasprit Bumrah
Be it any kind of surface, fast or slow, Jasprit Bumrah has always been MI's best bet in their bowling attack. Ever since making his debut for the five-time champions in 2013, Bumrah has grown into arguably the best fast bowler in the world across all three formats.
The IPL 2021 season hasn't been the greatest for the speedster. Although he has an excellent economy rate of just 6.25, he has picked up just 4 wickets from 4 games so far. It is time for Bumrah to step up and show why he is one of the best in the business.
Whenever MI have faltered or found it difficult to get going, a match-winner has emerged, raised his hand and brought their campaign back on track. So this could be the right time for Bumrah to up the ante and be among the wickets once again.
With the PBKS batting not showing the consistency it needs to, this could be the best time for Bumrah to return to lethal wicket-taking form.
#1 Rahul Chahar
Rahul Chahar's form dipped towards the end of last IPL season and he was dropped from the team for the final. With the acquisition of an experienced leg-spinner like Piyush Chawla, there were talks about including the veteran ahead of Chahar in the playing XI.
However, skipper Rohit Sharma showed faith in the young leggie and it paid huge dividends. The 21-year-old is currently the highest wicket-taker for MI with 8 wickets from just four games.
Chahar's leg-spin and deception has played a huge role in MI winning their two games this season. Having just played for the Indian team in the T20 format, the confidence is evident in Chahar's bowling.
With a number of quality players and big-hitters in the PBKS batting line-up, MI's chances of winning the game will rest on how Chahar bowls his four overs. It is well within his ability to help MI beat PBKS to register their third win of the season.