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Cricket news - KXIP hope home is where the success is
There's a famous 'Dancing Plastic Bag' scene in American Beauty, the Academy Award-winning movie from 1999. Recorded with a handheld camera, it shows a white plastic bag going wild in the wind against a red brick wall, drifting from place to place, mostly without its own will, as it struggles to find something to cling onto. "That's the day I realized that there was this entire life behind things," Wes Bentley's character Ricky Fitts says in the scene.
It's symbolic that 'Sadda Punjab' is the official catchphrase for Kings XI Punjab this season. The slogan translates to 'Our Punjab' in English and is symptomatic of times when Mohali returns to become their only home venue. After years of drifting from Dharamsala to Pune to Indore, trying to make each one their own, KXIP seem to have found something to cling onto. And it's the same ol' Mohali. It was right there.
Ravichandran Ashwin realizes that the constant nomadism came at a cost -- that KXIP largely remained without a defining character. They never had their own whistles. "For me, Sadda Punjab means a cricket culture that is not going to be shaken around; and be completely ingrained with stability," he told the KXIP website ahead of the tournament.
Just how this culture takes shape across the seven home games in Mohali will go a long way in deciding what becomes of KXIP and it all starts with their Friday's clash against Mumbai Indians, a team that likes to be nothing other than itself.
When: Kings XI Punjab vs Mumbai Indians, Match 9 at 4:00 PM local
Where: IS Bindra Stadium, Mohali
What to expect: KXIP won all three of their home games in Mohali last year before moving onto Indore and losing steam, so much so that they plummeted from the top of the table to finish second-last. Their success revolved around KL Rahul and Chris Gayle's blitzkrieg at the top, and a burgeoning spin attack, led by Ashwin himself, which mined gold with mystery spin on a big ground with even bigger square boundaries.
Expect a flat, hard-rolled pitch again this season with a lot of singles/twos/threes on either side of the wicket. And the big lofts straight down the ground. Keep an eye on catching under the lights, with the low-range floodlights demanding some getting used to. The temperatures are set to be around 30 degrees, with no chance of rain.
Kings XI Punjab: KL Rahul was one of the first players to hit the practice nets on the eve of the match with a bunch of fringe players and practiced playing a lot of glides through to third man - a cricket shot very dear to Mohali and made all the dearer by that Virat Kohli innings against Australia in the 2016 T20 WC. Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan and Mandeep Singh hit the nets later, and the focus seemed to be on placing the big shots straight down the ground.
KXIP's major pain point so far has been the lack of a sixth bowling option, but with Moises Henriques staying back in Australia to participate in the Sheffield Shield final, KXIP do not really have a ready-made solution at hand. What they might do is bring in Mujeeb Ur Rahman for Hardus Viljoen and replace Varun Chakravarthy with Ankit Rajpoot, who sweated it out against Rahul in the practice nets.
Probable XI: Lokesh Rahul(wk), Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal, Sarfaraz Khan, David Miller, Mandeep Singh, Hardus Viljoen/Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Ravichandran Ashwin(c), Varun Chakravarthy/Ankit Rajpoot, Mohammed Shami, Andrew Tye.
Mumbai Indians: With a travel day separating two match days, Mumbai didn't practice on Friday. Given the kind of win they pulled off in Bengaluru the other night, it's hard to see them changing up a winning combination. And how's Yuvraj Singh going to fare against 'Sadda Punjab'?
Probable XI: Rohit Sharma(c), Quinton de Kock(w), Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah
What they said:
"We will have a very settled squad right throughout the IPL. We haven't got too many guys coming and going; some of the other sides will have to deal with that. Part of Mike Hesson's master plan was to keep a settled squad" - Craig McMillan, KXIP's fielding coach.
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