Riding high on two consecutive victories against Royal Challengers Bangalore and Chennai Super Kings, Kolkata Knight Riders suffered a shocking 13-run defeat at the hands of their ‘nemesis’ Mumbai Indians at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday. With the win, the Rohit Sharma-led side announced their resurgence in the tournament, climbing to the 5th position in the table with 4 wins in 10 games, just one less than KKR. Now as the Dinesh Karthik-led side get ready to host Mumbai at Eden Garden on Wednesday, they will be wary of the fact that a loss might see them slip down to the bottom half of the table.
KKR’s poor record against the opposition will be the one factor that might put them on the backfoot in the upcoming match. In 21 matches between the two teams in 10 seasons of IPL, MI have won 17 of them, the most wins for any IPL team against any opponent. Their defeat in Sunday’s match was their 7th consecutive loss against Mumbai. The last time KKR won against MI was back in April 8, 2015, 1,125 days ago.
Now, with both teams still to play only four round robin games, every game is crucial and Kolkata will be eager to push for a victory with Mumbai rising a threat to challenge their position in the Playoffs. To pick up a win at home, the onus will lie largely on Sunil Narine, who will be expected to contribute with both bat and the ball. KKR chose to push Narine down the batting order in their previous game, but the strategy did not work in their favour. It is highly likely the West Indies spinner will come back to open the innings with Chris Lynn this time in order to give his side a fiery start at the top of the order. He will also be expected to get the precious wicket of Rohit Sharma, whom he has already dismissed six time before in the previous editions.
With Mumbai Indians rising at the right time, it becomes a reminder of the 2015 season, when the side won 7 out of their last 8 games to eventually win the title. KKR will be wary of the record books, and will need to find support from their pacers department, which has been a massive let down this season. While the veteran Mitchell Johnson and youngster Tom Curran have been expensive, Andre Russell has appears to be bowling at a slower speed to avoid aggravating his troubled hamstring.
Shivam Mavi, who impressed in the U-19 World Cup, has too failed to make a big impact so far, and was replaced by Prasidh Krishna in the previous match after the former suffered a finger injury. But it still remains to be seen, who might get a chance in the next match.
MI got the best of KKR’s strong middle order comprising of Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana and Russell, with the use of short balls. Hardik Pandya, who has taken 14 wickets in 9 maches, will be one of the major threat for KKR, with the allrounder also starting to find his edge with the bat. MI might look to bring back Mustafizur Rahman in place of Ben Cutting who proved to be expensive in the previous match.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (C), Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Shivam Mavi, Mitchell Johnson, Shubman Gill, R. Vinay Kumar, Rinku Singh, Cameron Delport, Javon Searless, Apoorv Wankhade, Ishank Jaggi, Tom Curran.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Mayank Markande, Mitchell McLenaghan, Mustafizur Rahaman, Jasprit Bumrah, Akila Dananjaya, Ben Cutting, JP Duminy, Rahul Chahar, Sharad Lumba, Adam Milne, Siddhesh Lad, Md Nidheesh, Mohsin Khan, Anukul Roy, Pradeep Sangwan, Tajinder Singh, Aditya Tare, Saurabh Tiwary.