Mumbai Indians seek to boost play-off hopes with win over Kolkata Knight Riders
The last time Kolkata Knight Riders visited Wankhede Stadium, they were cruising towards an iconic victory having set a 180-run target for the hosts to chase down. Mumbai Indians, in their own backyard, was in a spot of bother with 60 required off 23 deliveries when a 23-year-old Nitish Rana turned things around in style with a brisk 29-ball 50.
Although it wasn’t a do-or-die game, the precarious situation that Mumbai Indians had found themselves in is no different from where they now stand in the league. Known as slow starters, their resurgence might have actually taken a bit too long this season given that the most glorious side in IPL history now stands at a juncture where they need to win every game.
Not an easy task
And against Kolkata Knight Riders, they face not just a tricky test, but a daunting one.
For a start, Mumbai Indians’s bowling has been nothing short of wayward this season. Barring Jasprit Bumrah (6.75), three of their top four bowlers — Hardik Pandya, Mayank Markande and Mitch McClenaghan — have all been hammered at economy rates of 9.12, 7.93 and 8.52, respectively.
Rohit Sharma will be well aware of what awaits him on Sunday. It isn’t quite the traditional batting pair that his boys will have to bowl to. There’s a stark contrast in the manner in which Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine approach the game. Even if they depart cheaply, KKR’s batting depth stems from the fact that their highest run-getter is their skipper Dinesh Karthik who comes in the middle-order.
Given MI’s situation, they can’t afford to make mistakes or treat them as part of their learning curve anymore. A win is a must and it has to be executed with utmost precision.
Not there yet
With Kolkata Knight Riders though, a loss might only cause a dent on their confidence but not enough to shut shop. With five wins from nine matches, they still have games to look forward to. Historically, MI hasn’t been a very happy hunting side for them anyway. Of their 21 games so far, KKR have managed to win just five. They’re winless in their last six games against them but if there’s a reason why the contest isn’t over yet, it’s because more than KKR, it’s MI’s inconsistency this season that has given a glimmer of hope to the visitors.
Neither KKR nor MI have their fate sealed yet. And still, a result on Sunday might settle things in that direction. Both teams have come good in their last games with the likes of Shubman Gill, Rohit Sharma and so on reaffirming the faith for their respective sides.
Rana is expected to play, given the southpaw was clearing the field with utmost ease during the net session, here on Saturday. However, if Rana does make a comeback, it would also pose a threat for the young Shubman Gill who might get demoted to the No 7 slot yet again.