By CricketCountry Staff
Mumbai: May 15, 2012
Kolkata Knight Riders would settle for nothing less than a victory in their return leg clash against Mumbai Indians on at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.
But it won't be easy for KKR as Mumbai Indians, with 18 points from 14 matches, hold an edge over the visitors and a victory in their last home game would definitely cement the Harbhajan Singh-led side's place in the second stage of the competition.
KKR, who suffered back-to-back defeats in their last two games - against MI and holders Chennai Super Kings - at the home venue of Eden Gardens, are a point adrift of their rivals with 17 in their kitty from 14 games.
But a win against Mumbai at the Wankhede Stadium would virtually seal KKR's place in the four-team play-offs ahead of their final round robin game against the struggling Pune Warriors on May 19.
KKR, however, need to dust off the stunning last-ball defeat against Chennai last night in their final home game of the season if they desire to match the highly confident Mumbai outfit, whose main adversary playing in their backyard has been the uncertain nature of the wickets.
On wickets that have helped batsmen, MI have been on roll, but on wickets that have either seamed around or helped spin bowlers overtly, their mighty batting line-up has struggled a bit --indicated by their 3-4 win-loss record at home this season.
Mumbai have turned it around after being comprehensively outplayed by the Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Wankhede Stadium on May 9. They defeated KKR and RCB away from home in back-to-back games to stand on the threshold of qualifying for the next stage of the competition.
If it was Rohit Sharma who flattened KKR with a brilliant unbeaten 109, his maiden IPL ton, it was another talented youngster, Ambati Rayudu, who stole the win for MI against RCB last night in Bangalore with a brilliant 81 not out off 54 balls.
Though Sachin Tendulkar failed to prosper in both these matches, getting out to single digit scores, MI would be heartened by the performance of Rohit, their leading run-getter this season with 407 from 14 games, and Rayudu.
The availability of South African Herschelle Gibbs to open the innings with Tendulkar has lent the cutting edge to the home team's fielding.
KKR Brendon McCullum(wk), Gautam Gambhir(c), Jacques Kallis, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Manoj Tiwary, Debabrata Das, Rajat Bhatia, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Iqbal Abdulla, Sunil Narine
MI Herschelle Gibbs, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik(wk), Ambati Rayudu, Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh(c), Lasith Malinga, RP Singh, Munaf Patel.