Rahul’s men are on a run of three losses; Mumbai has middle-order issues to fix.
Defending champion Mumbai Indians will hope to get its campaign back on track against struggling Punjab Kings in Chennai on Friday.
MI’s defeat against Delhi Capitals has raised questions about the middle-order. Against Sunrisers Hyderabad and DC, Mumbai’s batting never hit top gear in the middle overs.
Rohit Sharma’s side has been undone by the slowness of the Chepauk surface, with the lack of power-hitting from Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya compounding the woes. Pollard has 49 runs from four matches and Hardik, 35. Suryakumar Yadav’s 56 against Kolkata Knight Riders remains the highest score by an MI batsman this season.
However, with Jasprit Bumrah among the wickets and Trent Boult in form, MI’s bowling has enough strength. It has generally used two spinners: Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar. But against DC, Jayant Yadav got a look in. MI might persist with the same combination against PBKS.
With three losses on the trot, PBKS is at the bottom of the table. In Chennai, with the conditions getting tougher for batting, skipper K.L. Rahul and Mayank Agarwal need to begin well.
Rahul and Chris Gayle are slow starters, so there could be a case for Nicholas Pooran at No. 3. The inexperienced middle-order is masked by Deepak Hooda and Shahrukh Khan’s power-hitting.
In the bowling department, there was an expected departure from the pace-heavy attack. Jhye Richardson and Riley Meredith did not play the last match. Leg-spinner M. Ashwin returned to the starting XI; Ravi Bishnoi is waiting in the ranks.
It’s still early days, but PBKS would want to arrest its slide against a settled MI.