Mohali: Assured of a berth in the play-offs, table-toppers Mumbai Indians will start outright favourites when they take on bottom-ranked Kings XI Punjab in an Indian Premier League encounter at the PCA stadium on Tuesday.
It is going to be a tall order for the Adam Gilchrist-led Kings, whose hopes to reach the play-off race were dashed after a defeat to Pune Warriors on Sunday night, to face rampaging Mumbai, a side coming into this game with eight wins from 10 matches.
The win at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Saturday propelled Mumbai to the top of the points table with 16 points from 10 games and booked them a berth in the playoff stage of the Twenty20 tournament.
In their last match, the Sachin Tendulkar-led Mumbai inflicted a crushing defeat on Delhi Daredevils.
The high-flying Mumbai have been in terrific form with all-round performances putting them way ahead of the rest of the teams in the competition.
They faced a hiccup against the Rajasthan Royals earlier, but Tendulkar ensured that the side bounced back quickly defeating Kings XI in a home match.
Apart from the 38-year-old Tendulkar, in-form Ambati Rayudu and Rohit Sharma have shown the ability to tear apart any bowling attack, which in Punjab's case has been the weak link.
Aiden Blizzard, who blasted 37 in 23 balls in last game, can also be dangerous. Kieron Pollard is an asset for Mumbai with his all-round abilities and his athleticism on the field has impressed all.
Mumbai's bowling has also been quite good, with Sri Lankan import Lasith Malinga the highest wicket-taker with 24 scalps. Many batsmen have found his yorkers unplayable.
Medium pacer Munaf Patel and off spinner Harbhajan Singh have also been bowling well and taking wickets.
Finding themselves on the opposite end of the points table after a five-wicket defeat against the Pune Warriors, Kings XI have been struggling in the tournament and have managed just three wins from nine games.
Kings XI, which had managed to reach the semi-finals in the opening edition of the IPL, have had an ordinary run in the successive editions.
Last week, Kings XI suffered a crushing 85-run defeat at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore in Bangalore followed by the loss to Pune.
After impressing all with his heroics, opener Paul Valthaty has not been able to maintain consistency and the same has been true for skipper Gilchrist.
Gilchrist's compatriot Shaun Marsh is the key batsman for Punjab and on his day he can single-handedly lead the attack but it will remains to be seen how he tackles the in-form Malinga's pace.
Punjab had made wholesale changes in the game against Pune and it will be interesting to see what combination they play.
Punjab's bowling has looked ordinary forcing the side to make changes on Sunday. Key bowler Praveen Kumar came good against Pune and Punjab would be hoping he does well against Mumbai also.
Ryan Harris and Shalabh Srivastava will need to bowl a disciplined line against the formidable Mumbai batting.