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IPL 2017 qualifier: Mumbai Indians have history, Kolkata Knight Riders momentum

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will hold a bit of an advantage going into the Indian Premier League (IPL) qualifier 2 match against Mumbai Indians (MI) on Friday as their tie against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) has boosted their morale and given them an indication of how the M Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch in Bengaluru will behave.

ipl 2017 Updated: May 18, 2017 22:21 IST
Bihan Sengupta
Bihan Sengupta
Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
IPL 2017,IPL final,IPL qualifier
Mumbai Indians (MI) captain Rohit Sharma and Kolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir when the two sides met earlier in the Indian Premier League (IPL) season. Mumbai had won both their league stage matches against KKR this year.(BCCI)

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) came back to winning ways in style on Wednesday as they beat Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) by seven wickets in a rain-curtailed Indian Premier League eliminator match. But now they face a stern test as they lock horns with Mumbai Indians (MI) in Qualifier 2 for a berth in the final.

Mumbai Indians come into the clash, having lost Qualifier 1 to Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) but will take heart from the fact that they have a 15-5 record against their opposition in IPL history. Even in this season, they had won both the group stage matches against Kolkata Knight Riders; the last with a second string side at the Eden Gardens.

Kolkata Knight Riders, however, will hold a bit of an advantage as they go into the crunch game on Friday as their tie against Sunrisers Hyderabad has boosted their morale and given them an indication of how the M Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch will behave.

While the loss against Rising Pune Supergiant was a one-off poor performance by Mumbai Indians, Kolkata Knight Riders can actually use the situation to their benefit if they stick to a certain plan and play keeping the conditions in mind.

However, Kolkata Knight Riders need to bring some stability in their batting.

They let go of a top-two spot when they threw away their wickets while chasing a modest total against Mumbai Indians in their last group game.

They seemed to have hardly learnt anything as they repeated the act against Sunrisers Hyderabad during their eliminator clash.

They have a solid bowling unit that has been delivering for quite some time now but against Mumbai Indians, the batsmen need to bring on their best and put up a decent total for the bowlers to defend.

Umesh Yadav, Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile were extremely impressive on Wednesday and are expected to deliver yet another brilliant performance in the knockout tie.

On the other hand, Mumbai Indians will have to approach the game in an extremely cautious manner. They can’t take KKR lightly despite their terrific record against them.

They might be tempted to make changes following the loss to Rising Pune Supergiant but it may not be a good idea.

Another area where Kolkata Knight Riders have been shoddy of late is their inability to finish off games. Even while chasing a paltry total of 48 against Sunrisers Hyderabad, they were three wickets down for just 12 runs at one stage. With the likes of Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga in the side — all quality death over specialists — Mumbai Indians can cash in heavily if the KKR middle or lower order fails to score quick runs.

It should be a riveting encounter between the two sides, both of whom two-time champions.

Although Mumbai Indians won both their games against the Knights this season, the results could have easily gone the other way. In the first match, it was the individual brilliance of Nitish Rana that made the difference and in the second, KKR threw their wickets away.

First Published: May 18, 2017 20:22 IST