Back Yadav and Mumbai to earn redemption on Friday



Punjab Kings v Mumbai Indians
Friday April 23rd, 15:00 BST
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

No transformation for Punjab Kings

A name change proved to be a cunning strategy that brought success to Delhi Capitals but a similar move has yet to pay off for Punjab. The former Kings XI franchise has begun IPL 14 with one win and three defeats and, while it’s still early days, the danger signs are there.

The newly-named Punjab Kings are still relying too heavily on KL Rahul in the run scoring department and, while there have been half centuries from Deepak Hooda and Mayank Agarwal, the batting support is too inconsistent.

There are even bigger concerns amongst the bowling unit. Kings may have taken Sunrisers’ run chase into the 19th over on Wednesday but they only took one wicket and never looked like snatching an undeserved win. In four completed games, Punjab have claimed an average of four wickets in each match and that’s another statistic in need of improvement.

Defending champions stumble on

I’ve previewed all of Mumbai’s games so far and with two wins and two defeats the defending champions aren’t making things easy. All we can say is that the opening four matches have followed a pattern with Rohit Sharma’s men batting first each time and posting totals of 159, 152, 150 and 137. Even on a slow surface such as the one in Chennai, those targets need to improve.

I’ve been suggesting that Chris Lynn could be considered ahead of Quinton De Kock and others are starting to notice it too. Lynn posted 49 from 35 balls on debut while QDK has now made 44 in three attempts.

Perhaps Mumbai’s skipper should resist the urge to bat first whenever he wins the toss. The death bowling of Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah won’t rescue Mumbai on every occasion so maybe it’s time to chase.

Torrid times in Chennai

The M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai provides one of the slower surfaces in India but not everyone is making hard work of it. Those four contributions from Mumbai average out at 149 while Punjab Kings crawled to 120 all out against the Sunrisers on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Royal Challengers Bangalore set the season’s highest of 204 while KKR have also passed 185 on this ground. Over eight matches at this tournament, the average first innings score is 157, Five of those games have gone with the team batting first but the two most recent ties have gone with the chasing side.

Taking Mumbai’s 50% win record into account, they may look a little too short for comfort at 1.564/7 in the match result betting. That figure is shortened by Punjab’s dismal start and the Kings are out at 2.1211/10.

Having backed Mumbai Indians to beat Delhi last time out, some expletives were hurled towards the television when Rohit Sharma won the toss and elected to bat. RCB (once) and Punjab Kings (once) are the only other teams to have done this with mixed results at IPL 14 and it could make Friday’s toss irrelevant.

The defending champions have relied on tight death bowling to get them over the line in both of their victories to date but their batting hasn’t been strong enough. For Friday, I feel that they should add a third win if KL Rahul is dismissed early but I’d be sceptical if they were playing a stronger team. I’d therefore suggest taking two points on Mumbai to win but I’ll be keeping my own money in my pocket until the coin lands.

My second near miss from Mumbai’s previous game came in their top batsman market. Suryakumar Yadav started positively but ultimately fell short with 24 and I took no consolation from the fact that he picked up the sponsor’s Super Striker award.

Yadav, like Mumbai is getting a second chance as a dangerous hitter who just needs consistency. He’s available at 4/1 on the sportsbook and should be similar on the exchange when the prices fill up over there.

Other options in Mumbai Indians’ top batsman market include Rohit Sharma at 12/5, Quinton de Kock at 11/4 and Ishan Kishan at 11/2.

I’m staying with two tips but KL Rahul to top score for Punjab Kings is a tempting third option at 21/10. He is the key wicket and doesn’t have too much competition among the top order.

Another option could be to take Kings to hit the most sixes at 17/10. If Rahul has a positive day and receives some support from Chris Gayle and Nicholas Pooran, Punjab can convert at generous odds.

Perhaps Mumbai’s skipper should resist the urge to bat first whenever he wins the toss.