Kolkata Knight Riders

Kolkata Knight Riders who are placed in the bottom half of the table with eight points from 11 matches © IANS

By S S Ramaswamy

Mumbai: May 6, 2013

Upbeat after their comprehensive 60-run victory over table-toppers Chennai Super Kings, a confident Mumbai Indians will be eager to further brighten their play-off prospects with yet another win, over holders Kolkata Knight Riders in the 53rd match of the Indian Premier League (IPL) at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday.

Mumbai’s fifth victory in as many games at the Wankhede Stadium, which has proved to be an insurmountable hurdle for visiting teams this season, boosted their points tally to 14 ahead of their 12th round match against the Knight Riders who are languishing in the bottom half of the table with eight points from 11 matches.

It’s going to be a daunting task for Kolkata and the clinical dissection of Rajasthan Royals in their previous home game is just the shot in the arm the Gautam Gambhir-led side needed ahead of this huge challenge.

The visitors’ hope of making it to the knock-out phase is hanging by a thread and the head to head record against Mumbai

Two wins against nine losses is also not inspiring.

But the defending champions can take heart from the fact that when the two teams met here last year, it was Kolkata who emerged victorious.

Big-hitting Eoin Morgan has been the main prop in the middle with 278 runs at just over 34 per innings.

The defending champions would be pleased with Yusuf Pathan finally producing an innings of significance — he had made 49 not out in their eight-wicket win over Royals after a string of low scores.

The Knight Riders’ top-order, however, would have a big challenge to take on the likes of Mitchell Johnson, who has been the pick of Mumbai’s new ball bowlers this season, and Lasith Malinga in the power play period and death overs on a track that offers spongy bounce and sideways movement.

Mumbai’s batting has not exploded in all its glory so far, with senior batsman Sachin Tendulkar failing to converting his starts into big scores.

He has been partnered by West Indian Dwayne Smith at the top ever since Ricky Ponting decided to opt out from the playing XI, leaving the captaincy to Rohit Sharma who has been the fulcrum of the batting along with Dinesh Karthik.

With Harbhajan Singh choking up the runs and also taking wickets with Pragyan Ojha in the middle overs, Mumbai’s bowling at their home ground has been pretty impressive.

This was evident in the way they defended a small total of 139 on Sunday against a top class Super Kings batting line-up.

“It was a very important game for us coming after a loss, a very bad loss (against Sunrisers Hyderabad). Our win against Chennai who have been dominant will give us a lot of confidence going into our next phase of this tournament.

“We want to try and win every game we can coming to the last part of the tournament,” Man of the Match Johnson said yesterday.

Kolkata have depended a lot on their unorthodox spinner Sunil Narine (16 wickets) to get breakthroughs and the lanky bowler would relish the bounce and turn on this track.

With no other tear-away opening bowler to bank on, Brett Lee (4 wickets) could be given his fourth game of the season to support the likes of Kallis (11), Rajat Bhatia (9) and Laxmipathy Balaji (6).