INDORE: Defending champions Mumbai Indians will be aiming to sort their ‘opening woes’ in both departments of the game when they take on a rejuvenated Kings XI Punjab in a must-win IPL encounter, here on Friday. The three-time IPL champions are staring at an inglorious exit having brought up the rear so far, with only two wins in their kitty from eight games. On the other hand, Kings XI Punjab, under Ravichandran Ashwin’s leadership, have won five out of their seven games, slowly but surely inching towards the Play-Offs.A week off has certainly helped the likes of Chris Gayle and KL Rahul recharge their batteries and they will be aiming to come out all guns blazing at their adopted home. Kings XI Punjab’s season has been about collective performance. They don’t have the Orange Cap’ or ‘Purple Cap’ holders in their ranks but everyone has chipped in with impactful performances as and when required. ‘Universe Boss’ Chris Gayle (252 runs) came into the tournament with a bruised ego and battered the bowlers into submission with two half centuries and a hundred. Rahul (268 runs) also showed why he is rated so highly with the fastest ever 50 in IPL.Afghanistan’s rookie mystery spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman, with an economy rate of 6.51 and seven wickets, has been nurtured well by skipper Ashwin, who has marshalled his resources well. The pace duo of Ankit Rajpoot (7 wickets at 6.27) and Andrew Tye (9 wickets at 7.78) have also done the job for the Preity Zinta co-owned outfit. For Mumbai, the primary reason for six defeats in eight matches has been poor start by openers along with new ball bowlers leaking too many runs in Powerplay overs.While Suryakumar Yadav, with 283 runs from eight games, has performed decently after being promoted up the order, Caribbean left-hander Evin Lewis (194 in 7 games) has not been able to replicate his form in international matches. Skipper Rohit Sharma (196 in 8 matches) has shuffled his own batting position but his inconsistency has also hurt Mumbai Indians big time. The opening stands in eight games has so far yielded: 7, 11, 102, 0, 1, 12, 69, 5.
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