We have almost reached the business end of IPL 2017, and tomorrow which promises to deliver another exciting match, the Kolkata Knight Riders are set to take on Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens in Kolkata.
Gautam Gambhir and his troops will look to go out all guns blazing for a win as they look to seal a berth in the IPL playoffs. They will be bolstered by the presence of principle team owner Shah Rukh Khan, who is expected to cheer his team on from the stands for the first time at home this edition.
However the Knights will have their task cut out against a strong Mumbai side who have already booked their place in the playoffs. KKR (second in the points table with 16 points from 13 games) have one foot in the knockout stages. But with Punjab (fifth in the points table with 14 points from 13 matches) making a strong case for themselves now after two back-to-back wins, coupled with Sunrisers Hyderabad (fourth in the table with 15 points from 13 ties) and Rising Pune Supergiant (third with 16 in their kitty from 12 fixtures) also in the fray, they must ensure the berth with a win.
Surprisingly, recent form has been poor for both the teams. KKR have lost 3 of their last 4 matches, whereas Mumbai too have lost their last 2 games and suddenly find themselves in a place where a top-two finish is still not guaranteed.
Although the Rohit Sharma-led Mumbai lost to in-form Kings XI Punjab – who also beat KKR in the latter last’s game – on Thursday chasing a mammoth total of 231, it was efforts from Lendl Simmons (59), Parthiv Patel (38), Keiron Pollard (50 not out) and Hardik Pandya (30) that got them within seven runs of the stiff target.
KKR, on the other hand, failed to chase down a modest 168 despite Chris Lynn’s fireworks with the bat (52-ball 84) against Punjab in their previous outing. None of the batters besides Lynn could get runs with Sunil Narine and Manish Pandey managing 18 which was the second highest score. Yusuf Pathan’s form has been a worry for the hosts with the experienced campaigner not being among runs for quite some time now.
Mumbai have a different picture to paint in this aspect. The Sachin Tendulkar-mentored twice IPL winners have not relied on one batsman to contribute and it has been a team effort as far as their batting is concerned. Pollard has been in terrific form and is their leading run-getter with 349 in 12 innings but that he is out of the top ten highest scorers’ list says a lot about how Mumbai have collectively performed as a batting unit.
In the bowling department though, the likes of Mitchell McClenaghan (18 wickets) is the third highest wicket-taker so far in the tournament with Jasprit Bumrah not far behind with 15 scalps. Meanwhile KKR have been boosted by the return of Lynn from a month-long shoulder injury layoff. The big-hitting Australian has started from where he had left off in the first two games and is the batting mainstay along with Gambhir, Robin Uthappa and Pandey. KKR have struggled with their middle order and on Saturday, Gambhir is likely to open the batting with Lynn. It remains to be seen where Narine is slotted in as the makeshift opener is unlikely to bat at No.8 or No.9 given his scoring spree.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (capt), Darren Bravo, Trent Boult, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Colin de Grandhomme, Rishi Dhawan, Sayan Ghosh, Shakib Al-Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Ishank Jaggi, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Woakes, Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Ankit Rajpoot, Suryakumar Yadav, Robin Uthappa, Umesh Yadav.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (capt), Lendl Simmons, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell McClenghan, Nitish Rana, Parthiv Patel, Saurabh Tiwary, Shreyas Gopal, Tim Southee, Lasith Malinga, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Asela Gunaratne, Harbhajan Singh, Hardik Pandya, Jagdish Suchith, Jasprit Bumrah, Jos Buttler, Karn Sharma, Vinay Kumar.
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