Mumbai Indians v Kings XI: Punjab have to be taken on

Chris Gayle
Gayle has been unable to keep pace with rahul
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Ed Hawkins previews the contest from the Wankhede on Wednesday as the playoff race goes to the wire...

"Last time out against Royal Challengers Bangalore Kings were humiliated. Bangalore, hardly an inspirational outfit, bowled them out for just 89 and won by ten wickets"

Mumbai Indians v Kings XI Punjab
Wednesday 16 May 15.30
TV: live on Sky Sports

Mumbai stuttering

Mumbai Indians were beginning to motor in their quest for an unlikely qualification. With three consecutive wins they came up against a flawed Rajasthan Royals team. Another success looked a good thing.

Instead, it was their own flaws which were exposed. The complacency which put their challenge in peril at the start of the campaign seemed to return. After Evin Lewis and Suryakumar Yadav had given them a platform to set an imposing total, they fell away, posting 168.

And they never looked like defending that score, even if they removed D'Arcy Short cheaply. Something which has not proved difficult for anybody this season. Hitherto Mumbai's bowling had been good.

The lack of penetration and control in the field perhaps exposed their need for a wise old head in the spin department. Mayank Markande has been brilliant but if he doesn't perform then Mumbai lack control. And you can't expect a 20-year-old leggie to be consistent.

Flawed Kings

Kings XI Punjab are on a stinker of a run. Not that we're surprised. When they seemed to be heading towards the play-offs we dissected their squad and came to the conclusion they were pretenders.

Last time out against Royal Challengers Bangalore they were humiliated. Bangalore, hardly an inspirational outfit, bowled them out for just 89 and won by ten wickets. They have now lost five of their last six. It is all a far cry from when they won five of their first six

So what's gone wrong? Well, they were hugely reliant on KL Rahul and Chris Gayle blitzing teams in the powerplay overs. Although Rahul has continued to be impressive, Gayle has lost his way.

It is also possible that teams have lost their fear factor of Kings. They are content to let the openers carry on at about eight or nine an over, safe in the knowledge that one wicket tends to bring two or three. As we have said consistently, Kings have no middle order to speak of.

Ravi Ashwin, the skipper, admitted after Bangalore that his crew were "not a champion team". He's right. Confidence must be at a low ebb.

Pitch has been good for bat and ball

The Wankhede pitch has thrown up a mixed bag of scores this term. From Mumbai's 213 against Bangalore to Sunrisers' 118, it is a bit of a mystery as to how the wicket should play. It is supposed to be a good batting wicket. Most of the time it looks pretty flat. The scores this season (1-2 denotes match won by team batting first or second) read: 168-2/181-1/118-1/213-1/194-2/165-2.

Indians should be too strong

We're always trying to find a way to take on the favourite in T20. But this contest is one of those occasions when, if you bet the outsider, you could just end up feeling like a total mug. Mumbai are a decent bet here at [1.75]. Kings are not at [2.3].

It is entirely possible that Kings have gone at the game. The swagger and smashing of their early-season form has completely disappeared. In its place is the harsh reality that this is one of the most one-dimensional franchises of the last few years. They can bat well in powerplays. But that's about it. Their bowling has consistently lacked penetration.

Mumbai, with fast starters, a middle-order and a bowling unit which has been reliably difficult to get away, are a better team.

Yadav has the vibe

Lewis and Yadav are 5/2 and 11/4 respectively with Betfair Sportsbook for top Mumbai runscorer honours. Yadav has form. Against Kings in the previous meeting - won by Mumbai by six wickets - he notched a fifty. Rohit Sharma, with a duck against Rajasthan, could do with a score. He is 7/2.

Rahul criminally underrated

Rahul is bidding for top runscorer honours in the tournament. It would be a shame for him personally if Kings failed to qualify because he would probably claim top spot given his record. It is excellent. He has 558 runs at 58 with a strike rate of 163. So he should be favourite for top Kings bat, right? Wrong. That goes to Gayle, who has scored fewer runs more slowly. Mad. Rahul is 11/4 with Betfair Sportsbook. He should be jolly.

Ed Hawkins P-L

2018: +14.36
2017: +12pts
2016: +18.1pts
2015: +38pts
2014: +31.5pts
2013: +25pts
Based only on available prices. Does not include back-to-lay in-running match advice or commission rate. Figures 2013-2016 on 1pt level stakes. New points system (0.5pt-5) introduced for 2017. Includes Hawk-Eye stats column p-l

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