Their performance wasn’t great till about a week ago, but in a simple example of how unpredictable Twenty20 can be, Kolkata and Mumbai are well and truly in the race for semi-final berths. In popular terms, they should be buoyant going into Friday’s match, given the way they’ve posted victories in their last and respective matches.
A campaign that got mired by the Harbhajan Singh controversy and did seem to be taking off, Mumbai have suddenly turned things around. Points wise, they are where Kolkata and Delhi were after eight matches. Kolkata’s tally too looks a lot better than what it was following three straight wins. Winning this game is crucial for both.
Sachin Tendulkar’s team would like to maintain the momentum following the win over Chennai. The breakneck pace set by Sanath Jayasuriya on Wednesday will be fresh on the minds but such a knock doesn’t come everyday.
Kolkata have a better attack and it’ll probably come down to application and common sense instead of hitting everything that comes their way.
With Jayasuriya back among the runs and Tendulkar in the team, here is a pair that could’ve been the most feared in the world a few years ago. Batting had been the problem area for them in the first half of the competition, but there is evidence that it’s coming good and there lies the prospect of a keen contest given Kolkata’s pace resources.
It is a batsman’s game, goes the saying and even in the days of runs and runs, Kolkata possess a few bowlers everyone would like to have. There is no substitute to sustained hostility from both ends and Sourav Ganguly’s team has this option with Shoaib Akhtar making his presence heavily felt in his debut match on Tuesday against Delhi.
Batting, still, continues to be a concern for Kolkata. The new opening pair of Salman Butt and Aakash Chopra provided more solidity than Twenty20 momentum in the last match and after them there are no big names or promises apart from Ganguly and David Hussey.
True, that you don’t need more than two batsmen on song in such a short game on a given day, but Kolkata don’t look as potent in this department as in fast bowling.
With all the permutations, combinations and the close proximity of the teams on the points table, there are prospects of an even contest. Cricket wasn’t quite the highlight till about two weeks after this show kicked off on April 18, but the dust has settled and things are taking shape. The importance of Thursday’s match is a pointer to this fact.