A win against table toppers Kings XI Punjab must have done Kolkata Knight Riders a world of good © PTI
Cuttack: May 13, 2014
High on confidence after beating table-toppers Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in their previous game, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will look to continue the winning momentum when they take on erratic defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) in their Indian Premier League (IPL) match at Cuttack on Wednesday.
The last time the two sides faced off in the tournament opener in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Knight Riders came out triumphant.
The Kolkata outfit, though, has been struggling to find its feet in the ongoing tournament, but back-to-back victories, especially a win against a strong Punjab side at this very venue, must have done its confidence a world of good.
Come Wednesday, KKR, who are placed fourth in the points table with four wins and five loses in nine games, would certainly be keen to go all out for a victory and brighten their chances of making the play-off stage.
Kolkata’s batting has clicked against both Delhi Daredevils (DD) and KXIP, with under-fire skipper Gautam Gambhir leading from the front striking a couple of superb half-centuries to guide the team to victory.
Robin Uthappa and Manish Pandey have also made significant contributions in the last two games and would be looking to continue with their exploits.
The bowlers will also draw confidence form the fact that they managed to restrict Punjab’s marauding batsmen to a mere 149 for eight here.
Knight Riders’ decision to include Morne Morkel and Piyush Chawla in the playing XI paid huge dividends as they picked five wickets for 49 runs in eight overs between them.
While leg-spinner Piyush Chawla (3 for 19) bowled brilliantly in the middle overs, pacer Morne Morkel (2 for 20) did his job to perfection.
With mystery spinner Sunil Narine around, the Mumbai Indians would definitely be wary of Kolkata’s bowling unit.
The defending champions, with just three victories from nine games so far, are well aware that they would have to win all their remaining matches if they want a berth in the play-offs.
They will take inspiration from the seven-wicket win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in Hyderabad last night.
Despite most of their batsmen being among runs, Mumbai have faltered a little too often in this tournament so far.
Skipper Rohit Sharma and West Indian powerhouse Kieron Pollard have been successful in the current season. Even Ambati Rayudu have contributed with runs.
On Monday night, Rayudu (68) along with Lendl Simmons (68) comfortably chased down a 158-run target against the Sunrisers.
Mumbai Opener Chidambaram Gautam has also pulled off a few surprises with his big hits.
However, other key batsmen in the ranks — Michael Hussey and Corey Anderson — are yet to click. And Mumbai can only hope that they would rise to the occasion on Wednesday.
As far as their bowling is concerned, Zaheer Khan‘s absence has hurt Mumbai but if the likes of Lasith Malinga, Praveen Kumar, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha manage to fire in unison, the hosts might face some serious trouble.