The Kolkata Knight Riders take on the Mumbai Indians in Match 54 of IPL 2017. MI occupy the top spot in the standings currently and are very likely to finish first or second – which comes with the advantage of having a second go at qualifying for the final if they lose the first playoff match. MI were the first side to confirm a berth in the playoffs. However, at a time when teams must be playing close to their best-cricket, MI have lost two matches on the trot and that must certainly worry the team management; in their most-recent outing, they lost a close match to KXIP, and prior to that lost an away match to Sunrisers Hyderabad.
The Kolkata Knight Riders are nearly through to the playoffs – though there exists a (nearly impossible) mathematical chance that they can still miss the top four. KKR have 16 points and the best NRR of all the contenders, and the intention will be to win this match and finish among the top two teams. KKR too are coming from a defeat to KXIP; it was a match they should have won, but let slip from their clutches. Knowing how passionate Gautam Gambhir is, one is sure a few words would have been spoken in the dressing room about the importance of men-in-form and players set in the middle completing the job. KKR will be without at least two of their first-choice players; the batsman Robin Uthappa and fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile have both been ruled out of the match, possibly giving them more time to recover from their respective injuries.
Sunil Narine’s blitzes at the top have been a thorn for many a fielding team captains; the Trinidadian, primarily a bowler, has provided KKR with great starts in several games recently. Gautam Gambhir is KKR’s top run-getter this season, but he has not made a substantial score in the last four matches and will be keen to get a big one in this important clash.
Given he normally bats lower down the order and the fact that one is only used to see him playing cameos, it is hard to believe that Kieron Pollard is Mumbai Indians’ top run-getter this season. While it establishes that the Trinidadian is in form, it also shows that the rest of the batsmen at the top have not done the job as well. Since he has been drafted into the XI, Lendl Simmons has been brilliant as opener, but the form of Nitish Rana and Rohit Sharma should be a worry for MI; Rana has gone off the boil in the latter half of the competition, while following every good innings, the skipper Rohit has made a poor score. But expect a big score from the MI captain in this match – given his romance with the Eden Gardens.
13May 2017, 2000 Hrs IST
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
Head to Head
Overall: Matches played – 19, KKR Won – 5, MI Won – 14.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (capt), Darren Bravo, Trent Boult, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Colin de Grandhomme, Rishi Dhawan, Sayan Ghosh, Shakib Al-Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Ishank Jaggi, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Woakes, Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Ankit Rajpoot, Suryakumar Yadav, Robin Uthappa, Umesh Yadav.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (capt), Lendl Simmons, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell McClenghan, Nitish Rana, Parthiv Patel, Saurabh Tiwary, Shreyas Gopal, Tim Southee, Lasith Malinga, Krunal Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Asela Gunaratne, Harbhajan Singh, Hardik Pandya, Jagdish Suchith, Jasprit Bumrah, Jos Buttler, Karn Sharma, Vinay Kumar.