Mumbai Indians (MI) will host a struggling Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) side at the ACA-VDCA Stadium in Visakhapatnam on Friday. The Sachin Tendulkar-mentored side, have three matches to go, and they cannot afford to lose any, if they want to make it to the IPL playoff stages.
Meanwhile, KXIP will look to spoil Mumbai Indians' party on Friday. KXIP have lost three of their last five matches.
However, ever since Murali Vijay has taken charge of the team, they have played better cricket. The Preity Zinta co-owned side almost trumped the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their last game, but unfortunately lost by a solitary run. That win could have put a huge dent on RCB's hopes of making it to the final four of IPL 2016.
Coming to the teams, Mumbai Indians have finally found the right groove and are looking pretty dangerous. They have gone on to win matches even when Rohit Sharma has not fired with the bat at the top of the batting order.
The team combination seems to be working as well for the Mumbai Paltans. But, Rohit Sharma, coach Ricky Ponting and mentor Tendulkar will now only want to make things even better. They might think about bringing in Martin Guptill to open the batting. Parthiv Patel, Rohit's partner at the top, has scored just 24 runs in his last four matches
There is no doubting Guptill's ability with the bat. He is too good a player to warm the bench in a tournament like the IPL. In that case, Tim Southee will have to sit out and make way for his fellow New Zealander.
Kieron Pollard and Jos Buttler will most likely retain their places, after their heroics with the bat against RCB in their last match. Young Nitish Rana may just get another game to prove his worth, which could mean Hardik Pandya staying on the bench.
Meanwhile, KXIP have not yet confirmed if Glenn Maxwell has recovered from his injury. It is still uncertain whether he will be available for selection for tonight's game against the Mumbai Indians.
Vijay was excellent with the bat in the last game and registered his highest score of IPL 2016. He will look to emulate his performance against the Mumbai Indians as well.
Marcus Stoinis has also been a good addition to this side. Latest recruit, Hashim Amla, has not really fired with the bat at the top of the order along with Vijay. The classy South African batsman has a strike rate of 88 and that is definitely below par in T20 cricket.
Anureet Singh and KC Cariappa were KXIP's best bowlers in the last match against RCB and they are likely to retain their place in the playing XI.
Expected playing XI: Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Martin Guptill, Ambati Rayudu, Nitish Rana, Kieron Pollard, Jos Buttler (wk), Krunal Pandya, Harbhajan Singh, Shreyas Gopal, Jasprit Bumrah, Mitchell McClenaghan.
Kings XI Punjab: Murali Vijay (C), Hashim Amla, Wriddhiman Saha, David Miller, Marcus Stoinis, Farhaan Behardien, Axar Patel, Mohit Sharma, Anureet Singh, Sandeep Sharma, KC Cariappa.