After the 14-run defeat at the hands of Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier this week, Mumbai Indians were low on confidence and needed a win to get back into the thick of things. On Friday, the defending champions began their road to redemption with a resurgent win over in-form Kings XI Punjab. Returning to IPL after a week’s break, the Ravichandran Ashwin-led side failed to defend the total of 174 with a blistering partnership between Krunal Pandya and Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma. The duo added 56 runs in 21 balls to take their side to a 6-wicket win.
But the job is not yet done for Mumbai. Their hopes of making it through the Playoffs are still dicy with them sitting in the 5th position, and having just 6 points in 9 matches. To add to their worries, their next challenge is not an easy one. Mumbai will face a confident Kolkata Knight Riders, who will be coming on the back of two consecutive victories, one against MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings.
With 5 wins in 9 games, KKR are sitting in the third position in the IPL table with 10 points, and the Dinesh Karthik-led side will be eager to continue the winning momentum against Mumbai at Wankhede Stadium, where the side has a good record.
Mumbai Indians can take confident from the fact that their opening batsman Suryakumar Yadav, who has scored 340 runs so far in the tournament in 9 games is in brilliant form, and the middle-order comprising of JP Duminy, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya and Sharma himself have chipped in with runs in the previous few games. But the side will look to fix the leaks in the team – Suryakumar’s opening partner Evin Lewis being a major one. In 8 games, the West Indies batsman has scored only 204 runs at an average of 25.50 and has failed to give a strong start to the side. MI might be looking to replace him in the team and bring in a new opening partner for Yadav.
Another leak Rohit Sharma will be looking to fix would be Kieron Pollard who has been absolutely out of form with both the bat and the ball (and even fielding) this season. Sharma might bring in Ben Cutting back to the side against KKR. The MI skipper will also take note of the fact that their side has give away plenty of runs in the death overs, and against the strong batting line-up of Kolkata Knight Riders, featuring the likes of Andre Russel lower down the order, it might come back to haunt them. Mitchell McLenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah, Haridik Pandya and Krunal Pandya will look to bowl tight lines in the final few overs to ensure they do not cost too many runs.
KKR, on the other hand, will be elated with the emergence of Shubman Gill, who scored a brilliant fifty in the previous encounter against CSK. The skipper Dinesh Karthik, Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine are also among runs for the side and their batting looks strong. If Nitish Rana, who did not play the previous match due to a back injury returns against MI, it will give another boost to their already strong batting unit.
The three spinners for KKR, Narine, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav have all been among the wicket-takers for the side and the trio give their bowling line-up a lethal edge. Karthik will hope the pacers Tom Curran, Mitchell Johnson and Shivam Mavi could also deliver for their side with the bowl as well.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (captain), 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 (captain), 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.
(With inputs from PTI)