KKR are being haunted by the same old problems. © BCCI
With just 15 matches left in the Indian Premier League 2018 ahead of the play-offs, the focus for teams now is to gather, and then sustain momentum heading into the business end of the tournament. So far, only Sunrisers Hyderabad can claim to have built such momentum that could lead them to a title win after having won five matches in a row, deservedly finding themselves at the top of the table.
Chennai Super Kings had claimed three teams in consecutive matches earlier in the season as did Kings XI Punjab, but both teams have had mixed run since. Kolkata Knight Riders, however, who for now sit on fourth spot, have failed to string more than two wins in a row. With the loss against Mumbai Indians in Mumbai, KKR now need at least three wins from their four games to separate themselves from the chasing pack in the lower half of the table.
Two of their last four games are against the teams occupying the top 3 slots, and it will be crucial that KKR don’t leave their qualification hopes hanging until the last game. And hence, the clash against MI becomes crucial. MI have momentum on their side with wins against KXIP and KKR in their last two games. While Rohit Sharma’s captaincy was exceptional in the match in Indore – where he negated R Ashwin’s ploy to keep Krunal Pandya out of the game with a left-right combination by ekeing out overs from Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah and Ben Cutting at crucial junctures – the bowlers stood up to squeeze KKR in front of their fans at home.
While it seems like things are finally falling into place for MI after a slow start, KKR are being haunted by the same old problems. They are yet to find a solution to their powerplay woes with the ball. Robin Uthappa has looked in exceptional touch, but no innings of substance just yet has been frustrating. While he did convert his start against MI to score a half-century, he was dismissed at a crucial stage which turned the tide.
Having said that, KKR have exceptionally improved their death bowling to pull games back. Against CSK, they gave away just 87 in the last ten overs, while giving away 86 against MI in the same period.
Chris Lynn, in his pre-match press conference, spoke about how desperate the team is to get momentum back and don’t want to end up in a situation where every game is do or die. It could just be that desperation that might do the trick for KKR against a team that has always had the better of them.
When: May 9, 2018, 8 pm IST
Where: Eden Gardens, Kolkata
What to expect:Showers are forecast in the afternoon, but should clear out ahead of the game. The pitch again is expected provide good pace and bounce, something the batsmen will enjoy.
Head to Head: MI have enjoyed an incredible run against KKR, winning 17, while the hosts have managed just five wins. At the Eden Gardens, MI have a better record with six wins over the home team in eight games.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Shivam Mavi picked up a finger injury in the clash against CSK and was forced to sit out of the game in Mumbai. On the eve of the clash, he spent most of his time on the sidelines, not warming up or bowling, and given the quick turnaround time, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be fit for this clash as well.
Probable XI: Sunil Narine, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Dinesh Karthik (c, wk), Andre Russell, Shubman Gill, Mitchell Johnson, Prasidh Krishna, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav
Mumbai Indians: MI walk into the clash with all bases covered. They’ve got pacers to exploit the pace and bounce from the pitch and in-form spinners as well. They are unlikely to make a change to their winning combination.
Probable XI: Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis, Ishan Kishan (wk), Rohit Sharma (c), Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, JP Duminy, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah
Rohit vs KKR: 22 inngs; 721 runs; Avg 45.06; SR 136.55; 1 x 100s; 4 x 50s; HS 109*
Rohit at Eden: 11 inngs; 418 runs; Avg 52.25; SR 146.67; 1 x 100s; 3 x 50; HS 109*
Narine vs Rohit in all T20Is: 94 balls; 93 runs; seven dismissals; SR 98.94
Sunil Narine has 46 wickets at the Eden Gardens in IPL games and needs four more wickets to become the second bowler after Lasith Malinga (at Wankhede) to take 50 wickets in a venue.
What they said:
“There’s a bit of jinx going on. Our win-loss record isn’t great against them. Someone like Mahela and Rohit have done a good job with them. We are going to get one back tomorrow night. We definitely owe them one. The boys are desperate because if we don’t win, we are going to put ourselves under a lot of pressure in the last three games” – Chris Lynn on KKR’s poor record against MI.
“What’s been great about our team is that we stood up. We took responsibility and realised that we are the ones who are going to change our fortunes around. The manner in which we’ve played our cricket in the last few games has epitomised the brand of cricket we want to play” – JP Duminy on MI’s revival after a slow start.