The beginning of the journey for Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab had been quite opposite, with Mumbai struggling to find wins in their earlier matches while Punjab almost looked invincible.
Cricket news: Can Mumbai add some fuel to their late surge or will Punjab bounce back from their three-match losing streak?
But things changed drastically as the tournament progressed, and now both the teams face each other to fight it out for the last two remaining playoff spots.
Mumbai were having a fairy-tale comeback but their progress was halted by Rajasthan Royals on Sunday. Mumbai would now want to win their last home game at the Wankhede against Punjab on May 16 (Wednesday).
It has been a season of two halves for the Punjab team. They were labelled as ‘underachievers’ but proved everyone wrong as they won five games out of their first six matches and was well inside the top-four.
But in the second half they squandered their chances and lost five games out of their six matches to drop down into the unfavourable half.
Punjab’s dwindling form has been because of their over reliance on their two openers in the likes of KL Rahul and Chris Gayle, with the middle order taking no responsibility at all.
Rahul is the second-highest run-getter in this league till now and has carried his team over the line in two occasions but has never got the support from the middle order.
Recently they were handed a crushing defeat by 10-wickets by Royal Challengers Bangalore which gave Mumbai Indians a lifeline even before they stepped onto the field.
If Mumbai wins on Wednesday, they will capture the fourth spot as their net run rate is better than all the other teams. They can later consolidate their position by winning against Delhi Daredevils in their last league game.
However Mumbai has their own worries with batting and death overs bowling. JP Duminy, who is brought at No. 8, should be moved higher the order as his talents are being wasted currently. He is the one who can provide stability to the middle order.
Moreover the poor form of skipper Rohit Sharma has been a constant headache for the franchise. The skipper should come back in form quickly to build on the starts his openers are providing him every match.
Venue – Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai
MI Probable XI: Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya, JP Duminy, Ishan Kishan (wk), Krunal Pandya, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah.
KXIP Probable XI: Lokesh Rahul (wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair, Aaron Finch, Marcus Stoinis/Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Axar Patel, Ravichandran Ashwin (c), Andrew Tye, Mohit Sharma/Barinder Sran, Ankit Rajpoot.