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IPL: Table-toppers Mumbai face confident Punjab

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Mumbai:Table-toppers Mumbai Indians, the first team to secure a berth in the 2017 Indian Premier League (IPL) playoffs, are all set to take on a confident Kings XI Punjab at the Wankhede Stadium here on Thursday.

Mumbai, sitting atop the IPL standings with nine wins and three losses, will be looking to shrug off their performance in the last match, where they lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad by seven wickets.

On the other hand, high on confidence after defeating Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 14 runs on Tuesday, Punjab will look for a big win as, to qualify for the playoffs, they have to win all their three remaining matches in the cash-rich tournament.

Going into Thursday’s tie, the hosts will have a slight advantage as they have a much more balanced team as compared to Punjab.

In the batting department, opener Parthiv Patel along with Jos Buttler, Rohit Sharma, Nitesh Rana and Hardik Pandya are going through a purple patch that will surely help the visitors in outplaying the hosts.

The bowling department, which includes the likes of veteran off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Mcclenaghan, Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah are also in prime form. So it will be an uphill task for the visitors to beat Mumbai in their own den.

On the other hand, Punjab’s batting department which includes in-form Manan Vohra, Martin Guptill, Shaun Marsh and Wriddhiman Saha all have chipped in from time to time but need to be more consistent to lend depth to the batting.

Skipper Glenn Maxwell is due for a big score after getting under 300 runs in 12 matches, with an unbeaten 44 being his highest score this season.

On the bowling front, medium pacer Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma and leg-spinner Rahul Tewatia were brilliant in the last match and they will like to continue their form.

Apart for them, Axar Patel and Swapnil Singh also contributed well for the cause.

So Punjab will aim for a strong finish in order to qualify for the playoffs.

IANS

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