On the eve of every game,there is a whiteboard propped up on a stand,one that is erected in the Kolkata Knight Riders dressing room,on which the batting line-up for the match is penned using a marker. Such has been the dominance of their side,especially their top-three batsmen,that they havent had to digress from the whiteboard plan for a while now.
Gautam Gambhir has led his team to six wins in a row,Kolkatas best-ever run since the start of the IPL. The common consensus is that they are the most improved,if not the best,team of this edition of the IPL.
As the last week of the league games beckon,Gambhir wont want his team to lose sight of their main target a top-two finish. Gambhirs side will play the Mumbai Indians on Saturday at the Eden Gardens,and will be keen that his side adds two points to their tally as the top three teams Delhi Daredevils,Kolkata and Mumbai have a game in hand and all play on the same day.
Two shots at glory
The skipper highlighted the importance of carrying forward the winning momentum after his teams win over Delhi earlier this week. The top-two teams play Qualifier 1 in the play-offs and while the winner gets direct entry to the final,the loser gets another shot.
The winner of the Elimination (between teams three and four) will play the loser of the first qualifier in Qualifier 2,to gain right to progress to the decider,the all-important final.
For the first three years of the IPL,Kolkata just made up the numbers,while they managed to reach the play-offs last season. However,things have been different this time around,Now,Gambhir wants to insure against a bad day in the play-offs which can be achieved by finishing in the top-2.
Winning is a habit. When you are in good form you must make it count, Gambhir said. His team mates are confident of helping the team continue their winning run. The confidence level is very high. We have the belief that whatever the situation,we can overcome the odds and be victorious, Manoj Tiwary said.
However,Kolkata are not without deficiencies that have been masked because of the good form for the top-order. Yusuf Pathan,one of the better finishers of the game and a T20 expert,is struggling to find his form.
On paper,Mumbai Indians are a more balanced outfit with Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma up the order and finishers like Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Smith anchoring the death overs. However,all their batsmen havent pulled their weight at crucial junctures,while the bowling unit can look ordinary if Lasith Malinga has a poor outing.
Sharma,however,believes that qualifying for the playoffs is for Mumbai to lose. In this format,you cant guarantee success. But we are very confident that we will make it all the way, Sharma said.
KKR vs MI,Live on Max at 4pm