Mumbai, Apr 28: Buoyant after a morale-lifting win over hotshots Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai Indians will start favourites against Kings XI Punjab in their Indian Premier League clash at the Wankhede Stadium here on Monday (April 29).
Mumbai outclassed RCB by 58 runs last night to score their second straight win after two successive losses and got their campaign back on track ahead of their ninth game.
With 10 points in their kitty at the halfway stage, Mumbai are fourth following their third consecutive victory at home, which they have turned into an impregnable fortress.
They will remain in that position going into the contest against the struggling KXIP irrespective of Sunday's two games elsewhere.
For the second straight game on Saturday, captain Ricky Ponting dropped himself from the playing XI of Mumbai and stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma led his team to a second win.
Sharma had guided it past defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders in the previous away game.
Things seem to be falling into place for MI once the out-of-form Ponting has taken the decision to sit out and allowed talented West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Smith to take his place in the team as well as at the top of the batting order.
Smith has scored two fifties in the four games he has played so far and also delivered with the ball by taking two wickets in Saturdays comprehensive win over RCB that avenged their first-leg defeat in Bangalore in style.
The batting has a settled look now and delivered big time in the three home games by rattling up huge scores of 209 for 5 against the Delhi Daredevils, 194 for 7 on Saturday and 183 for 3 against Pune Warriors.
After surprisingly not giving a game to Dhawal Kulkarni, their home product who had a very good season during Mumbais 40th title triumph in the Ranji Trophy, MI included him in the eleven yesterday and he contributed with a three-wicket burst.
With Smith and Harbhajan Singh, who delivered the knockout blow by sending back danger man Chris Gayle, also coming to the party, MI did not even need to use the left-arm slow skills of Pragyan Ojha on Saturday.
The bowling attack, in which Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson also pose a danger to the opposition, appears well-rounded and would present a big challenge to Punjab on the bouncy track that is the hallmark of this venue.
On the other hand, Kings XI are coming into the game after being outsmarted by holders KKR at the Eden Gardens. A victory over MI, unlikely though it seems, would increase their points tally to 10.
The visitors have an under-performing retired Australian great at the helm like MI, but unlike Ponting have not yet taken the big decision to leave out Adam Gilchrist.
The wicket-keeper batsman is yet to provide the flying start which he was known for in his heydays and a tally of 94 runs in eight games has hurt his sides chances.
The inclusion of Mandeep Singh, who has the ability to clear the ropes with nonchalance and has scored 219 runs in eight matches, as Gilchrists partner has certainly given a better look to the batting.
With another experienced Aussie campaigner, David Hussey (165 runs in 8 matches), too not among the runs, the batting has struggled.
They have struggled in five games outside their home venue of Mohali in putting up scores over 150 and even at home, they have been shot out for 138 by Chennai Super Kings.
The batting line-up needs to put up a far better display against the likes of Malinga, Johnson and Harbhajan to match MIs batting might.
The visitors bowling attack too looks a bit weak, especially in the spin department, barring the experienced Piyush Chawla who has taken only three wickets after figuring in eight games.
Praveen Kumar (nine wickets) and Azhar Mahmood (11 wickets from 7) have been the main wicket-takers with their ability to move the ball in the air, and they would relish bowling in seaming conditions at the Wankhede.
Mumbai Indians: Ricky Ponting (captain), Abu Nechim Ahmed, Akshar Patel, Aditya Tare, Aiden Blizzard, Ambati Rayudu, Amitoze Singh, Dhawal Kulkarni, Dinesh Karthik, Dwayne Smith, Glenn Maxwell, Harbhajan Singh, Jacob Oram, Jalaj Saxena, James Franklin, Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Mitchell Johnson, Munaf Patel, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Phil Hughes, Pawan Suyal, Pragyan Ojha, Rishi Dhawan, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Suryakumar Yadav, Sushant Marathe, Yuzvendra Singh Chahal.
Kings XI Punjab: Adam Gilchrist (captain), Mandeep Singh, Luke Pomersbach, David Miller, Manan Vohra, David Hussey, Piyush Chawla, Praveen Kumar, Harmeet Singh, Bhargav Bhatt, Parvinder Awana, Azhar Mahmood, Bipul Sharma, Siddharth Chitnis, Aniket Choudhary, Manpreet Gony, Gurkeerat Singh Mann, Shaun Marsh, Dimitri Mascernhas, Nitin Saini, Sandeep Sharma, Rajagopal Sathish, Sunny Singh, Paul Valthaty.
Match starts at 8PM IST