The defending champions Mumbai Indians can not afford to lose one more match in the tournament. First, they were asked to bat in favourable chasing conditions.
Andrew Tye emerged as the wrecker-in-chief as he returned with figures of 4-0-16-4, while skipper R Ashwin (2/18) scalped two wickets for Kings XI Punjab. Then the change in length did the trick for Mumbai.
After being put in, Mumbai started cautiously as the Punjab bowlers bowled tight lines and lengths. They were blessed to have two key players, Jasprit Bumrah and Kieron Pollard, performing at their best. He fell to Bumrah in the penultimate over for 94. After bagging five wins out of first six games, they managed to clinch just one from the rest six matches. Mumbai Indians has already beaten Kings XI Punjab once this year. That has been the story of high profile Mumbai Indians this IPL season. That may have forced their top order to not only attack from the outset, but remain aggressive irrespective of the start. The middle-order has deliberately failed and ended up hurting Punjab's chances. Together, they faced 27 balls and hit four fours and four sixes, putting Mumbai on course. Suryakumar was caught behind off the thigh pad off the next ball. Most of Mumbai's problems were down to Tye's unique skill - swerving knuckle balls - which forced them to reassess their innings. Pandya conceded 19 runs from his first over thanks to the six and a couple of boundaries, the second being a pristine drive from Rahul.
Again, at no point did Mumbai change tactics.
However, their playoff hopes took a hit when they suffered a seven-wicket loss to Rajasthan Royals (RR) here at the Wankhede Stadium a few days back. The left-right batting combo scored 55 runs in the first four overs after the break.
This season, Rahul has shown his ability to pace a T20 chase.
Tom Curran is in the Kolkata ranks and seemingly competing with Australian Mitchell Johnson and West Indian Javon Searles for a spot in the seam attack - Searles played against Kings XI but went for a whopping 52 runs from his four overs, so Curran will be hopeful of a recall.
An equally-consistent performer has been Mayank Markande, who has produced at crucial times.
Opposition opener Sunil Narine also gives it a wallop up top, the Trinidadian blazing 75 from just 36 balls against Kings XI at the weekend, while he has also bagged 14 wickets with his spin.
KXIP needed 42 off 4 overs when Bumrah came back for his third spell and gave away 10 runs off 2 overs, claiming 3 wickets including Rahul's.