A place in the VIVO IPL 2017 will be up for grabs when Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians face each other in the Qualifier 2. The top two sides for most part of the tournament lost a bit of momentum in the last few matches. And thus here they are, on the penultimate step, still needing to outwit each other if the dream for a third crown is to be kept alive. Here are the Preview and Match Predictions for Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders.
Mumbai Indians finished the league season at the top of the table before going down to Rising Pune Supergiants in the qualifier 1. They shed their tag of slow starts to rack up nine wins in their first eleven matches. They’ve slowed down since, losing three of their last four games. MI will draw inspiration from knowing they took this same route when they won the title in 2013.
Kolkata Knight Riders seemed to have rediscovered their mojo as they set aside the defending champions Sunrisers Hyderabad in a rain affected encounter. Their bowlers were able to restrict an in-form batting line up before Gautam Gambhir calmly led them home in a shortened run chase. KKR successfully endured Bengaluru’s notorious weather and they would be much more better equipped with the wicket and prevailing conditions than Mumbai Indians.
Thunderstorms are expected to hit in the evening and this means another long night awaits the clash. The pitch is unlikely to be too different from the one that hosted the Eliminator. On Wednesday or rather Thursday, spinners were tough to get away, and the pacers largely stuck to cutters and cross-seam deliveries. With both sides sure to keep an eye on the weather, the toss could become vital.
If the rain denies a full game, the winner of a Super Over will progress to the Qualifier. If the conditions don’t even permit a Super Over, the team that finished higher in the regular season (Mumbai Indians in this case) will progress.
MUMBAI INDIANS – STRENGTHS
Mumbai Indians have this uncanny knack of bringing out their best game in the knockouts. Their bowling attack looks lethal with Malinga finally getting some form in the last match. Bumrah has been exceptional with his wicket taking abilities and economical death bowling. Krunal Pandya and Karn Sharma have been impressive with the ball. Harbhajan Singh, who has been part of two IPL title-winning squads, has 14 wickets in knockout matches. Parthiv Patel hit a half century in the last match. MI has won the last five games against KKR.
MUMBAI INDIANS – WEAKNESSES
This has been Rohit’s poorest IPL season by a distance: he has scored just 283 runs. Mumbai batsmen would be low in confidence after a poor outing against Pune at Wankhede. Their power hitters would have to tweak their game a lot on a slow Bengaluru wicket.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS – STRENGTHS
Their biggest strength would be knowing the conditions in Bengaluru. They have just won the game against Sunrisers here, and getting another match here in two days would be a big advantage. The bowling of KKR is in top form. Nathan Coulter-Nile announced his comeback with a Man of the Match performance. Umesh Yadav and Trent Boult gave him ample support. Sunil Narine has kept the batsmen quiet in the middle overs. Gautam Gambhir used his experience to take the game away from Hyderabad and he’ll be expected to do it again on Friday.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS – WEAKNESSES
In the absence of Manish Pandey, who has been ruled out due to injury, the middle order of KKR looks fragile. With Yusuf Pathan and Suryakumar Yadav not amongst runs and Ishank Jaggi playing just his second game, KKR depend a lot on Chris Lynn, Gambhir and Uthappa. They have scored the fewest runs of all teams in the end overs.
MI – There would be a toss up between Ambati Rayudu and Nitish Rana. Rayudu hit a half century against KKR before getting out on a duck in the last match. Nitish Rana ran out of steam after a dream start. Harbhajan Singh may be recalled in place of Karn Sharma.
Lendl Simmons, Parthiv Patel (wk), Rohit Sharma (capt), Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga
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KKR – Kuldeep Yadav may make a comeback in place of Piyush Chawla. Rest of the squad is expected to be the same.
Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Gautam Gambhir (capt), Robin Uthappa (wk), Ishank Jaggi, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Trent Boult, Umesh Yadav
HEAD TO HEAD
Overall: Played – 20, MI – 15, KKR – 5.
Mumbai Indians have won both their fixtures this season against KKR in closely fought matches. In the first match at Wankhede, Mumbai made 59 off the last 23 balls to chase down KKR score of 179. In the return fixture at Eden Gardens, MI bench strength came to the fore as they won by 9 runs.
With history on side of Mumbai and momentum favouring KKR, this is going to be a mouth watering clash if the rain gods permit. Here’s what we predict
If MI bats first
1st Innings Score: 140 – 150
KKR wins by 5 wickets.
If KKR bats first
1st Innings Score: 140 – 150
MI wins by 5 wickets