With all this talk up about match ups, here is one for you – Mumbai Indians just know how to beat Kolkata Knight Riders, leading their head to head 20 to 6. If KKR decides to not play Sunil Narine until the issue with his bowling action is resolved, Mumbai Indians will have the clear upper hand going into the game. Mumbai is looking for their fifth win on a trot, with each of their batsmen looking in good form. As predicted, they have the best pace lineup alongside Delhi Capitals. The spin department lacks depth and variety, but that’s not to say Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar haven’t done well.
KKR is in the same boat as RCB was a couple of games ago. Having a decent number of points on the table but a negative run rate, which could decide whether they make it to the playoffs or not. Dinesh Karthik knows that they need to win this game – a loss would leave them needing to win almost all their games going forward. A win here would leave them on par with Mumbai and Bangalore on points, without even get their combinations right thus far.
Superstars Andre Russell and Eoin Morgan are yet to get going, but that is as much down to the team’s poor planning, as it is down to the players’ form. A game against the defending champions is no game to experiment, and KKR will need to go in with their best order on paper – Morgan, Russell, and Karthik, in that order, after the openers and Nitish Rana.
Mumbai Indians won by 49 runs
Mumbai comfortably won the reverse fixture, on the back of an exceptional performance from Rohit Sharma, and then the entire bowling unit. Pat Cummins’ performance with the bat and the ball were at extreme ends, going for almost 50 in his three overs before coming out and smashing Jasprit Bumrah for four sixes in an over.
Rahul Tripathi should play as the opener, and nowhere else
It is perplexing to see how teams have used Tripathi. Even after proving his worth as an opener, he would be sent down the order regularly at his previous team Pune. KKR have evidently not learned that lesson, as they are repeating the same mistakes again. Tripathi came in at seven in the last game, and has even played at number eight this season! He can play the aggressor role at the top perfectly, allowing Shubman Gill to play the anchor.
Kuldeep Yadav back in the playing eleven?
A couple of years ago, Kuldeep Yadav was the best wrist-spinner in world cricket. He kept stalwarts like R Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, and sometimes even his bowling partner Yuzvendra Chahal out of the team. Since then, it has been a time to forget for Yadav. He hasn’t been the same since he received that hammering at the hands Moeen Ali, and was dropped midway into the season last year. An okayish World Cup followed and within a short span, he has gone from having the world at his feet to seeing it all crumbling. Uncapped Varun Chakravarthy, who’s had quite the journey of his own, has been preferred over Yadav, but if Lockie Ferguson comes in for Tom Banton, KKR can afford to play both the spinners against a Mumbai batting lineup which loves facing the quicks.
MI probable playing 11 – 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Ishan Kishan, 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 James Pattinson, 9 Rahul Chahar, 10 Trent Boult, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
KKR probable playing 11 – 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Rahul Tripathi, 3 Nitish Rana, 4 Eoin Morgan, 5 Andre Russell, 6 Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), 7 Pat Cummins, 8 Lockie Ferguson, 9 Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Prasidh Krishna, 11 Varun Chakravarthy
Despite Kevin Pietersen’s claims that KKR would not miss Narine’s bowling a lot, it is quite clear for everyone to see how pivotal he still is. With Narine taking care of the death, KKR could afford to bowl out Pat Cummins at the start, a plan which they will need to rethink due to the former’s unavailability. Narine or no Narine, one can never truly write off a team that has even an out of form Russell in their ranks.