IPL 2013: Kolkata Knight Riders clutching at straws during visit to Mumbai Indians

Mumbai Indians (above) haven’t looked an indomitable side, like Chennai Super Kings and even Royal Challengers Bangalore to some extent, and have failed to really create a dominant aura about them © IANS

By Jaideep Vaidya

Mumbai: May 6, 2013

Kolkata Knight Riders will engage in a battle for survival against the Mumbai Indians when the two teams clash in their return fixture of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium.

The last time these two met, Mumbai Indians snapped their own two-match losing streak with an inspired batting performance to chase down 160. Mumbai have won three and lost one after that, while Kolkata have won two and lost as many. KKR, who have not really lived up to their tag of being defending champions this season, have just four wins in 11 matches played and need to win all five of their remaining league games in order to stand a chance to qualify for the playoffs.

What makes it an even taller order for KKR on Tuesday is that they will have to start off by trying to breach the almost impregnable fortress of Wankhede where MI haven’t lost a single game so far. MI will be high on confidence going into the fixture after their rather outrageous mauling of the table-toppers Chennai Super Kings by 60 runs on Sunday. Skittling out the two-time champions for 79 — their lowest score ever — is no child’s play, after putting on a modest 140 on the board.

However, one area where Mumbai have struggled is finding consistency in their performance. They haven’t looked an indomitable side, like Chennai and even Bangalore to some extent, and have failed to really create a dominant aura about them. If Mumbai can thrash the two-time champions by 60 runs, they can very well slump to an 80-run loss against the most sorry looking team in the league the next game. And this could be an area KKR could exploit on Tuesday.

If Gautam Gambhir‘s men somehow manage to run through MI’s batting line-up, they stand a very good chance of winning the game since that’s where Mumbai’s strength lies. The wickets of Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik and Kieron Pollard would be key, since either one of them can run away with the game. KKR’s best bet would be to not allow MI to build partnerships.

Mumbai have a couple of issues to ponder over themselves, the form of the iconic Sachin Tendulkar being one. The 40-year-old has 186 runs to his name in 11 matches at 16.90 and is clearly struggling to keep up with the demands of this instant-cricket format. One wouldn’t be surprised if the Mumbai management has already begun discussing the possible dropping of the Little Master, although doing it at a game played at the Wankhede would be at their own peril!

As for KKR, the return to form of Yusuf Pathan would have delighted the team management. The burly Baroda batsman hit a match-winning 49 not out as his team beat the Rajasthan Royals by eight wickets in their last match. Finding a suitable No 5 batsman has been their folly with a number of trial and errors, and this match could see the return of Manoj Tiwary into the fold for a second go. KKR could also choose to go with the pace of Brett Lee over Sachithra Senanayake to test the Mumbai batsmen, who are very good players of spin.

Mumbai lead the head-to-head battle between the two teams, having won nine out of 11 games. Thus, Kolkata would have to produce something really special to beat this strong MI side and, more importantly, stay alive in the competition.

Teams:

Mumbai Indians (Probable): Dwayne Smith, Sachin Tendulkar, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson, Lasith Malinga, Dhawal Kulkarni, Pragyan Ojha.

Kolkata Knight Riders (Probable): Gautam Gambhir (c), Manvinder Bisla (wk), Jacques Kallis, Eoin Morgan, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Rajat Bhatia, Sumit Narwal, Brett Lee, Iqbal Abdulla, Sunil Narine.

Time: 20.00 IST | 14.30 GMT

(Jaideep Vaidya is a multiple sports buff and a writer at CricketCountry. He has a B.E. in Electronics Engineering, but that isn’t fooling anybody. He started writing on sports during his engineering course and fell in love with it. The best day of his life came on April 24, 1998, when he witnessed birthday boy Sachin Tendulkar pummel a Shane Warne-speared Aussie attack from the stands during the Sharjah Cup Final. A diehard Manchester United fan, you can follow him on Twitter @jaideepvaidya. He also writes a sports blog – The Mullygrubber )