Ever since they met in the season opener at Abu Dhabi, the Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians have had mixed luck. While the former wobbled after a great start, Mumbai have picked themselves up after five straight losses. Despite three wins in four matches in the India leg, Mumbai have a lot of catching up to do.
The clash at the Barabati Stadium is said to be KKR’s home match, and their followers would be hoping that the side will be in full flow. After a woeful start, skipper Gautam Gambhir’s crisp cover drives are back, and the good thing is that they keep flowing till he closes out a game.
Robin Uthappa may lack the maturity of Gambhir to see a match off, but his promotion as an opener has put an end to the opening woes. After an initial flourish, a knock of substance is round the corner for Jacques Kallis while Manish Pandey too is beginning to get a grip on his game.
The promise shown by Surya Kumar Yadav late down the order has also assured them of a late-order surge. Gambhir had promised that his bowlers would win them more matches this season, and they have not let their captain down of late.
After a horrible run, the Mumbai are chugging along on self belief. Six defeats in nine matches, the defending champion were in unfamiliar terrain. They benched one opener and shuffled another’s batting order. Lendl Simmons’ last two innings of 38 and 68 are a sign that MI were expecting from their top order.
Captain Rohit Sharma regaining touch has widened options in case he is willing to open again. But MI are still to decide the order in which Kieron Pollard, Aditya Tare and Corey Anderson should bat. Harbhajan Singh and Lasith Malinga must be happy to get a helping hand from Praveen Kumar, but they need another specialist bowler to support Malinga in crunch situations.