Sachin set to make a comeback vs Punjab

Though Mumbai Indians may look firm favourites against Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League (IPL) contest at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday, there are a lot of questions about the Champions League winners. Considering Adam Gilchrist and his men’s poor run in the tournament (two wins from six games), it may look like a cakewalk for Harbhajan Singh & Co. But going by the records, Kings XI Punjab is the only team against whom Mumbai Indians have lost more games than won (5:3).

Sachin Tendulkar walks in at the Wankhede yesterday. Pics/Atul Kamble

Although Mumbai Indians have won three out of their five games in the IPL-V, they haven’t been a dominant force so far. Barring the April 4 IPL opener against Chennai Super Kings — which they won by eight wickets with 19 balls to spare — the rest of their victories have not been that convincing. They managed a last-ball win against Deccan Chargers in Visakhapatnam on April 9 and allowed the inaugural IPL champions Rajasthan Royals to bat till the second last ball while chasing on April 11. Injuries too have hampered Mumbai Indians’ chances. Batting legend Sachin Tendulkar is making a comeback from his finger injury that kept him out for four matches.

Harbhajan Singh is badly missing match-winner Lasith Malinga

Malinga in Sri Lanka
Also MI’s bowling mainstay Lasith Malinga has returned to Sri Lanka to recuperate from a sore back. “Sachin is ready to play. Malinga will be back next week,” said Robin Singh, Mumbai Indians’ head coach, on Saturday. Tendulkar’s net session abruptly ended within a few minutes after being hit by Thisara Perera. The batting maestro didn’t look happy with his timing in the nets and threw his gloves on the ground. After a while, he took some knocks with tennis balls.

Robin, however, said there is no injury concern. “It was just a small hit on the finger, but he is fine. He is playing tomorrow,” the coach said. Another headache for Harbhajan could be his own form, though he has marshalled his troops well so far. The skipper is struggling to take wickets — claiming just one wicket and conceding 101 runs at an economy rate of 6.73 in five games. Harbhajan may have disappointed with the ball, but he tops the batting charts with an average of 33.50 for the Mumbai Indians.

Dinesh Karthik makes a diving attempt during practice yesterday.

Robin though is not concerned about Bhajji’s form. “It is certainly not (a concern). It is not just about taking wickets in this format especially. It is about having a good economy rate. Sometimes a bowler bowls at an economy rate of six, but the other bowler picks up wickets. Bowling in strike rates is important here,” he said. 

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