Centurion:The losing streak has finally ended for Mumbai Indians but the road to semifinals remains tough as it prepares to take on an equally desperate Kings XI Punjab in a crucial Indian Premier League match here on Tuesday.
Just one point separates the two teams on the championship table with Punjab ahead at the fifth spot after 10 matches. In fact, Punjab had got the better of Mumbai when the two teams faced off the first time around in the event.
Mumbai is also through with 10 matches, having notched up four wins against five losses and a washout. Sachin Tendulkar's men endured a three-match losing streak before finally managing a win against Royal Challengers Bangalore last night.
Punjab has been strengthened by the arrival of Australian pacer Brett Lee, who impressed with both bat and ball in the nail-biting win over Deccan Chargers in his first IPL match this season.
Among the batsmen, Mahela Jayawardene scored a fifty against Deccan and will have to play a key role in the middle order.
Kumar Sangakkara and skipper Yuvraj Singh have been in good touch and it would be quite a task for the Mumbai bowlers to contain them if they get going.
Mumbai's spirit has been lifted by last night's win over Royal Challengers Bangalore. South African JP Duminy's consistent scoring has taken care of the inconsistency of the opening pair of Sanath Jayasuriya and Tendulkar.
But for Mumbai to do well, Tendulkar and Jayasuriya have to click at the top as Duminy may not be able to bail the side out in every match.
The bowling has been hit badly by Zaheer Khan's absence. The pacer has been unavailable for the past three matches due to a shoulder injury and his absence has taken the bite out of Mumbai's attack.
Star off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's inconsistent form hasn't helped the team's cause either.
Both the teams have lost some close encounters and it would be interesting to see how the two captains - Tendulkar and Yuvraj - respond if the match turns out to be a humdinger tomorrow.
With the race to semifinals heating up, tomorrow's contest is of immense significance as both Mumbai and Punjab are locked in an intense battle to be among the top-four.