Mumbai Indians look to grab momentum against Punjab Kings
Mumbai Indians look to grab momentum against Punjab Kings

MUMBAI: Perennial slow starters In their Indian Premier League (IPL) matchup against a struggling Punjab Kings here on Saturday, Mumbai Indians, who have rediscovered their mojo, will be the favourites. Mumbai Indians, who are currently ranked sixth in the points standings, had a rough start with losses in their first two games, but they were able to convincingly recover with victories over Delhi Capitals, Kolkata Knight Riders, and Sunrisers Hyderabad.

On the other side, Punjab Kings, ranked seventh in the points table, have stuttered in the absence of their regular captain and the highest run-scorer Shikhar Dhawan, who is unlikely to play against Mumbai Indians here at the Wankhede Stadium owing to a shoulder injury.

Punjab Kings have three wins to show from overall six matches but all three losses have come in their last four matches, with PBKS desperately missing the stability and firepower that Dhawan provides at the top. The left-handed senior batter has scored 233 runs in four matches and is currently among the top run-getters in the IPL 2023 and his absence is something that PBKS have not been able to fulfill anyhow. Sikandar Raza scored a fine half-century (57) and took Punjab Kings over the line against Lucknow Super Giants but he was left out of Thursday’s clash against RCB inexplicably, as PBKS were bowled out for 150 in 18.2 overs in pursuit of 175.

Dhawan played a key role in PBKS making a confident start to the season but his absence has made a significant difference in the outcomes that have come along their way. Punjab Kings’ fielding coach Trevor Gonsalves informed after their 24-run loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore on Thursday that Dhawan would need another 2-3 days to attain complete fitness.

Prabhsimran Singh hit 46 to end his ordinary run with the bat while Punjab Kings will hope that their overseas stars in Liam Livingstone, Matthew Short and Sam Curran do more with the bat. With the ball, PBKS have again blown hot and cold and it will be a challenge to stop the Mumbai batters, who seem to have found their feet and have fired in unison.

The troika of Arshdeep Singh, Kagiso Rabada and stand-in captain Curran, the costliest player ever in the history of IPL auction, will have their task cut out as Punjab Kings look to arrest their slide.Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan at the top have provided brisk starts to Mumbai Indians, getting their runs at an almost 10 runs per over which has set the platform for the others that follow.

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