-Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2017, Qualifier-2, Bengaluru
By: Shashank Kishore
Qualifier 2, Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders
Bengaluru, May 19, 2017
Start time 2000 local (1430 GMT)
Overall: Mumbai have won 15 of the 20 matches between the sides.
This season: KKR have lost on both occasions from a position of strength. On a greasy Wankhede outfield, they failed to defend 59 off the last 23 balls after removing the cream of Mumbai’s batting line-up. In their last league game at Eden Gardens, they failed to chase down 25 off the last three overs. The loss cost them a finish in the top two.
Mumbai Indians 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. The last two overs, off which they conceded 41, proved costly in the first Qualifer against Rising Pune Supergiant. If there’s one surface where their bowlers can rediscover their mojo, it’s the one at Chinnaswamy.
The pitch is unlikely to be too different from the one that hosted the Eliminator. On Wednesday, spinners were tough to get away, and the pacers largely stuck to cutters and cross-seam deliveries to apply the brakes in the first innings before the rain came down. That could force Mumbai go back to Harbhajan Singh, who has picked up seven wickets in the middle overs, the most among Mumbai bowlers. That could mean leaving out one of Karn Sharma or Krunal Pandya, both of whom take the ball away from the right-handers. If the tackiness of the surface warrants an extra batsman, Krunal is likely to get the nod.
Knight Riders have a problem or two in the middle order. A six-over shootout against Sunrisers Hyderabad didn’t quite expose it despite their losing three wickets inside the first two overs. Manish Pandey suffered a side strain and has been ruled out. With the surface on the slower side, Knight Riders could bring back Kuldeep Yadav, their most successful spinner this season, and leave out either Ishank Jaggi or Suryakumar Yadav.
Bengaluru has witnessed plenty of rain over the past week. The forecast for Friday is no different, although the state-of-the art sub-air system is capable of sucking out nearly 10,000 litres of water per minute. With both sides sure to keep an eye on the weather, the toss could become vital.
The likely XIs
Mumbai Indians: 1 Parthiv Patel (wk), 2 Lendl Simmons, 3 Rohit Sharma (capt), 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Krunal Pandya, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Mitchell McClenaghan, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Jasprit Bumrah
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Sunil Narine, 2 Chris Lynn, 3 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 4 Robin Uthappa, 5 Yusuf Pathan, 6 Ishank Jaggi, 7 Suryakumar Yadav/Kuldeep Yadav, 8 Piyush Chawla, 9 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Trent Boult
Knight Riders could consider opening the bowling with Sunil Narine. Lendl Simmons, his Trinidad and Tobago team-mate, has fallen to him once previously and has scored just five off the nine balls he has faced. Parthiv Patel has also been unable to break free against the offspinner, scoring 17 off 19. In comparison, Simmons and Parthiv have struck at 143.59 and 146.20 respectively against pace this season.
Rohit Sharma has been dismissed by legspinners five times this season. KKR have two wristspinners in their squad: Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav, who can exploit this weakness.
Stats that matter
- This has been Rohit’s poorest IPL season by a distance: he has scored 283 runs at a strike rate of 124.66, while being dismissed for 10 or less nine times – the most times in any of his IPL seasons. His lowest aggregate prior to this was 362, in South Africa in 2009, much before he became an India regular.
- Knight Riders’ batsmen have scored the most runs in the Powerplay among all the teams, partly because of the belligerence of Chris Lynn (187.74) and Sunil Narine (178.33). They possess the best strike rates among all batsmen who have faced 100 or more deliveries this season.
- Knight Riders, however, have scored the fewest runs of all the teams in the end overs.
- Considering Knight Riders have two left-handers in their top six, Mumbai could ponder bringing in Harbhajan Singh for Karn Sharma or Krunal Pandya. Even though he had an ordinary outing in his previous game – conceding 45 off three overs against Kings XI Punjab – it was the only time in 11 games this season that he had conceded more than 6.75 an over. His economy of 5.30 in the Powerplay, meanwhile, is the best among all bowlers who have bowled five or more overs.
- Harbhajan, who has been part of two IPL title-winning squads, has 14 wickets in knockout matches, the most by any spinner and second only to Dwayne Bravo among all bowlers.
- Gautam Gambhir, who steered Knight Riders into the second Qualifer with an unbeaten 32 on Wednesday night, is the second-highest run-getter in the tournament with 486 runs in 15 innings. Three hundred and eighty one of his runs have come in 10 run chases.
- Mumbai lost their only previous knockout match at the M Chinnaswamy stadium, an Eliminator against Chennai Super Kings in 2012.
- Mumbai won their only previous knockout fixture against Kolkata Knight Riders, in 2011, before losing to Royal Challengers Bangalore in the second Qualifier. (ESPNcricinfo)
Shashank Kishore is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo