Mumbai, May 1 : Smarting from their morale-shattering seven-wicket loss against Rajasthan Royals, Mumbai Indians would look to put behind their disappointment and train their guns on a struggling Kings XI Punjab to return to winning ways in the Indian Premier League here tomorrow.
The high-flying Sachin Tendulkar-led Mumbai Indians, one of the strong favourites for the title, were brought down to the terra firma by Shane Warne-inspired Royals two days ago at Jaipur, owing to the visitors' batting flop show.
Batting first, Mumbai were stopped at 94 for eight after their top order simply disintegrated and the lower order led by big-hitting West Indian Kieron Pollard failed to prop up the innings leading to a huge defeat, their second in seven matches and biggest thus far in the tournament.But the hosts would fancy their chances against Punjab, who were occupying the eighth out of 10 spots on the points table following a comprehensive defeat to league toppers Kolkata Knight Riders last night.
A victory for Mumbai at the Wankhede stadium would put them back on top of the table and also back on track to become one of the earliest teams to book a berth in the four-strong play-off phase of the tournament starting on May 24.
Mumbai were overtaken on the table by the Kolkata Knights last night on net run rate, though both are level on ten points apiece and Tendulkar would be galvanising his men to put up a much better show at home.
Tendulkar was simply unstoppable in the first few matches especially after his superb 100 not out against Kochi Tuskers Kerala on April 15 but the senior India batsman his performance has dipped in the last two games.
With their campaign at the halfway stage in the round-robin stage, Tendulkar would be determined to put the immediate past behind and come up with a match-winning knock and not leave the major part of the work to his team-mates.
Tendulkar, the highest scorer for his team with 276 runs, Ambati Rayudu (212) and Rohit Sharma (203) have been the mainstays of Mumbai's batting.Retired Australian cricketer Andrew Symonds (108 runs in 5 matches) has had a mixed show with the bat but the biggest let-down has been big-built Kieron Pollard which has hurt Mumbai's chances.
Their other big hopes - New Zealander James Franklin and South African ‘keeper Davy Jacobs - too have flunked with the bat so far along with Rajagopal Satish who has done precious little for the faith shown in him by the team management.
Some changes are on the cards in the playing eleven with some of the players failing to fire at all.
Lasith Malinga has easily been the lynchpin of the Mumbai bowling attack and has grabbed a season-high 17 wickets with his superb ability to fire in yorkers with his sling-on action at will.
Munaf Patel has been economical with seven wickets. All others, including Harbhajan Singh barring his superb 5-18 against Chennai Super Kings nine days ago on this ground, have been a bit disappointing.
The success graph of the Punjab outfit, on the other hand, has gone in a zigzag manner, on the up one day and sliding down the next.
They have a 50 per cent success rate, their defeat against the Kolkata Knights Riders at the Eden Gardens last night being a dampener especially considering they needed to travel to reach here today and take on the strong Mumbai away from home tomorrow.
The Punjab batting has simply not been up to the mark despite Mumbaikar Paul Valthaty's early heroics and skipper Adam Gilchrist once-in-a-while pyrotechnics.
The visitors' batting had depended too much on these two big-striking openers and Punjab's success depend much uopn how the opening duo perform when they are confronted by the in-form Malinga.
Other overseas players, such as Shaun Marsh, Ryan McLaren and David Hussey, need to fire for Punjab to put up a good total or chase well.
To make matters worse home grown talent like Sunny Singh and Abishek Nayar have come a cropper while Dinesh Karthik at last found some touch against Kolkata, but his knock of 42 went in vain.
The Punjab bowling too has not been awe-inspiring. Praveen Kumar has not yet been on top after coming from an injury lay-off and the attack wears a thin look.
Piyush Chawla, who struggled for form in the World Cup, has under-performed with only four victims in six games and needs to be more effective to stop the rampaging Mumbai top-order.
Punjab's last visit to the metropolis when they played against Pune Warriors in neighbouring Navi Mumbai (D Y Patil Stadium) in the early part of the tournament, ended in an embarrassing defeat.
The visitors would be eager to put the record straight this time around, but face a big task to do so against the might of Mumbai.
The rival teams (from):
Mumbai Indians: Sachin Tendulkar (capt.), Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, Rohit Sharma, Munaf Patel, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Andrew Symonds, Davy Jacobs, James Franklin, Dilhara Fernando, Ray Price, Abu Nechim Ahmed, Aditya Tare, Ali Murtaza, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pawan Suyal, R Satish, Sarul Kanwar, Suryakumar Yadav, T Suman, Yuzvendra Singh Chahai.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist, Dinesh Karthik, Abhishek Nayar, Praveen Kumar, Piyush Chawla, Bhargav Bhatt, Bipul Sharma, Love Ablish, Mandeep Singh, Nitin Saini, Paras Dogra,
Paul Valthaty, Shalabh Srivastava, Siddharth Chitnis, Sunny Singh, Vikramjeet Malik, Amit Yadav, Shaun Marsh, David Hussey, Nathan Rimmongton, Ryan Harris, Ryan McLaren, David Miller. PTI