A tough contest is on the cards when Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will host resurgent Mumbai Indians (MI) at the crucial second leg VIVO IPL match at Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
The two rivals are yet to make them on a safe zone for a playoff even as they are nearly half-way in the 2nd leg of the eight-team championship.
Two times winners KKR are on 4th place with 10 points from as many games and MI, also winners of two championships in 2013 and 2015, are placed on 5th in the table.
Rohit Sharma's MI salvaged two points with 13-run win in the previous play against KKR at home to elevate 5th place with 8 points from ten games. Both the rivals are keen to win at Eden Gardens for the 4th slot and be on the contest for the play off.
For now Sunrisers Hyderabad atop the table with 16 points from ten matches and almost inthe play off, Chennai Super Kings on road to knock out stage with 14 points and Kings XI Punjab are sitting on 3rd pace with 12 points after nine games.
KKR skipper Dinesh Karthik chose to chase Mumbai Indians 181 runs in the previous play in the away game lost by 13 runs, a defeat that could have a chain of affect if they do not mend batting and bowling in next six remaining plays.
Chasing 182 for victory, KKR were restricted to 168/6 in 20 overs with Robin Uthappa scoring 54 runs while captain Dinesh Karthik remained unbeaten on 36 but could not get his team over the finish line. By the final over, KKR needed 23 runs and Krunal Pandya defended them comfortably with the innings ending at 168 for six.
Hardik Pandya starred with the ball for Mumbai with 2 wickets for 19 runs in 4 overs while Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah, Mayank Markande and Krunal Pandya taking a wicket each.
The win elevated MI to fifth in the points table with their second successive win.
Dinesh Karthik believes the home ground play has added advantage with cheering crowds and told his boys to buck up for the kill and avenge the away defeat. Kolkata in their return match is hopeful about an edge into the top half of the league points table.
And If MI can put another one over KKR tomorrow they may yet have a great IPL ahead, and that cannot be ruled out with skipper Rohit Sharma, the big-stage performer, overdue for a big knock at Eden.
KKR will bank on their leg-spin prodigy PP Chawla, apart from CS Delport and CA Lynn. On the other hand, Mumbai Indians will be desperately hoping their skipper R Sharma gets into form and knocks up a match-winning score. MI will also be banking on BCJ Cutting and E Lewis.
The one mistake that KKR have been making throughout this tournament is not picking the wickets in the powerplay. Out of the 10 games they have played this season, KKR have picked a wicket on just four occasions in the powerplay. What this means is simple - their new-ball bowlers are failing to apply pressure upfront in the innings. (UNI)