The game at Wankhede on Thursday is nothing short of a quarter-final for the MI if Ricky Ponting is to be believed. The match is a must win for the franchise if they want to repeat the feat of reaching the play offs for the 3rd consecutive time.
We take a look at how the two teams stack up.
Mumbai (Lost to RCB)
What went Wrong: Mumbai didn’t have the bowling wherewithal to curb AB de Villiers. Everyone apart from Lasith Malinga went for runs and things got so muddled in the middle that Hardik Pandya was entrusted with the task of bowling two overs in the end. Not a wise move, obviously. Bangalore went from 160 for 1 in the 15th over to finish on 235 from 20. Even Malinga, who had given just 13 from his first three, conceded 14 in his final over. By then, things had already gone pearshaped for Mumbai.
What Went Right: In a game where they were bossed around by de Villiers and Virat Kohli and gave away 235 runs, Malinga went for just 27 runs in his four overs. In the chase, Kieron Pollard and Lendl Simmons managed to keep them in hunt for a while with a 70-run partnership in just 37 balls, but expectedly things fizzled out in the end.
Kolkata (beat KXIP)
What went Right: He had to modify his action at the start of the this IPL and, two weeks ago, he was told he can’t bowl off spin. And in these dire times, Sunil Narine still manages to stun and tie up opponents with his quality spin bowling. When everyone was getting smashed by Punjab’s batsmen in the last game, it was Narine who gave away just 18 runs and picked up a wicket in his four overs to ensure that the target didn’t reach 200.
However, 184 wasn’t an easy target of course and looked pretty stiff when they had slipped to 83 for 4 at one stage. But Andre Russell and Yusuf Pathan added 53 runs in 25 balls to turn the game before Pathan fell. Russell, however, smashed a 21-ball 51, and though he fell near the end, Piyush Chawla managed to lead Kolkata to a one-wicket win off the penultimate ball of the game.
What Went Wrong: Their fielding. They dropped M Vijay thrice and Manan Vohra twice to let the openers add 45 in the Powerplay overs. Later, Russell suffered at the hands of David Miller, leaking 21 runs in the final over of the game. The fact that the Kolkata Knight Riders played with a slew of spinners meant Russell was the second seamer, and they had to pay for that a bit in the end.
The form of Narine and their lower order has meant that Kolkata are second in the points table, just one point away from Chennai with a game in hand. If they win against Mumbai, they go top. The game is even more crucial for Mumbai, who at 12 points from 12 games, are sixth and need to win to be in contention. Considering they were ambushed by de Villiers, and it can happen to any team, they probably won’t be feeling too down and out. They need Rohit Sharma to fire at the top of the order, and if that happens, they can put themselves in a position to win.
MI coach Ricky Ponting on Wednesday termed the clash as a “virtual final” for his team. “Tomorrow’s game is almost like a final. It becomes the most important game for us in the tournament. That’s the way we will approach the match.”
So, though Kolkata seem to hold all the aces in this encounter, it isn’t likely to be a walk in the park for them. Especially because their away record hasn’t been too impressive this season. They have won two and lost two on the road.