The Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians face off for the second time in three days as the race for the playoffs heats up. The Indians have maintained a stranglehold over KKR over the years, dominating them in every encounter. KKR desperately need a victory to stay in contention for the playoffs, with Mumbai coming back from behind as a legitimate threat to their chances.
Mumbai won the last game by 13 runs after they choked the Knight Riders in the end overs at home. This encounter will take place in Kolkata, where the home side will doubtless be better prepared than last time. Can KKR finally beat MI, or will the Indians maintain their jinx over KKR?
Rohit Sharma (c), Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Mustafizur Rahman, Suryakumar Yadav, Krunal Pandya, Ishan Kishan, Rahul Chahar, Evin Lewis, Saurabh Tiwary, Ben Cutting, Pradeep Sangwan, Jean-Paul Duminy, Tajinder Singh, Sharad Lumba, Siddhesh Lad, Aditya Tare, Mayank Markande, Akila Dananjaya, Anukul Roy, Mohsin Khan, MD Nidheesh, Mitchell McClenaghan, Adam Milne.
Kolkata Knight Riders
Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Dinesh Karthik (c), Robin Uthappa, Mitchell Johnson, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill, Ishank Jaggi, Nitish Rana, Vinay Kumar, Apoorv Wankhade, Rinku Singh, Shivam Mavi, Cameron Delport, Javon Searles, Tom Curran, Prasidh Krishna.
Where the teams stand
It’s that time of the year again for the Mumbai Indians. The last phase before the eliminators, when Mumbai truly come into their own. They have won their last two games, and are on their way to possibly having another. Losing this would mean almost certain elimination for them, taking their destiny out of their hands as they will be forced to rely on chance. Several of their players have found their rhythm in recent games, while one has been consistent from the start. Suryakumar Yadav has been in the form of his life, and is the fourth highest run-getter overall this year. The Pandya brothers have been very active, contributing with both bat and ball in every game. The Eden Gardens is a happy hunting ground for captain Rohit Sharma, who has achieved many milestones on this ground. His 264 against Sri Lanka, and his only century in the IPL have both come on this ground. Lewis and Kishan have also looked dangerous with the bat, but the latter has been demoted down the order in recent games. On a pitch that has been conducive to batsmen, the Mumbai batting lineup will relish the chance to one-up KKR once again. They have been inconsistent, but it is do or die time.
Mumbai’s bowling has received a massive boost with Hardik Pandya’s performances in recent games. He is the joint second highest wicket-taker of the tournament, and was phenomenal against KKR last time, and will be looked upon for breakthroughs once again. Pandya has also replaced Kishan at number four, doing quite well as a pinch-hitter there. Bumrah has been par excellence throughout the season, while McClenaghan and Markande are always amongst the wickets. Krunal is another bowler who can give Mumbai four quiet overs. With five done, Mumbai have two more bowling options in Duminy and Ben Cutting, albeit expensive ones. The bowlers won MI the game in the last round despite the focus being on the batsmen, but can they do it again?
Fantasy Picks: The Pandya brothers, Suryakumar Yadav, and Rohit Sharma are obvious picks from MI. Bumrah is another must have, while Markande has also been amongst the wickets.
Kolkata Knight Riders
KKR have been thoroughly inconsistent with their performances this season as injuries have kept them from reaching full potential. Dinesh Karthik has tried a number of strategies to keep oppositions guessing, but he has only been successful half the times. The last match saw Shubman Gill opening the batting, with Narine dropped down below the order. The opening stand has been KKRs biggest issue this season. Lynn and Narine have both just not looked in good touch this season, and it is hurting KKR against big oppositions. Uthappa too has been inconsistent despite a fifty in the last game. The same applies to Rana. Too often pressure has piled on DK and Russell to save KKR at the end, with the former often the last man standing for his side. Batting issues are not the only ones KKR need to deal with though, with some patchy bowling also standing in the way of consistent success.
Under Gambhir, KKRs main driving force was their fearsome bowling attack. Under Karthik, with most injuries hampering this department, KKR have been like a toothless tiger. Their bowling has not looked threatening, and they have one of the worst power play economies of any team. Narine has been amongst the wickets, but he has also been expensive in many a game. Prasidh Krishna replaced an injured Shivam Mavi in the last game, and did not have the best debut as he conceded 39. Chawla/Kuldeep also have a tendency to be leaky, giving KKR too many flaws to deal with, and not enough time or resources to do so.
Fantasy Picks: DK, Narine, and Russell are the best picks from KKR for this match. Rana and Kuldeep are both huge gambles, but with the way KKR are playing, all of them are.
MI win. KKR will need some special inspiration to win this one, given how inconsistent they have been all season.