Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir's side will face off in an epic battle at Wankhede stadium, Mumbai    AFP & IANS
Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir’s side will face off in an epic battle at Wankhede stadium, Mumbai AFP & IANS

It was breathtaking to see what happened at Saurashtra Cricket Association Stadium, Rajkot on Friday wherein Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) began their Indian Premier League (IPL) 2017 campaign in a thundering fashion. Gujarat Lions (GL) bowlers were taken to the cleaners in every over, which made viewers think as if they were glued to the highlights rather than watching the live telecast. Well, such is T20 cricket. The ball stays hit when they strike the right chord. KKR’s next tie is against Mumbai Indians (MI), a side which boast of a better overall record (13-5) but did not get off to a pleasant start in their opening encounter. A grueling clash awaits the spectators at Wankhede stadium, Mumbai when Rohit Sharma‘s brigade lock horns with Gautam Gambhir‘s well-oiled side. Full Cricket Scorecard, Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2017, Match 7

Team composition:

MI will like to tinker with their line-up after their last clash against Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) on Thursday. Sri Lanka’s two vital players, Lasith Malinga and Asela Gunaratne, will be available for selection for their second game. Malinga, being an essential cog in Rohit’s camp, will walk straight into the side after they failed to defend a competitive score versus RPS. He may swap places with New Zealand’s Tim Southee, who himself is a clever customer in his prime job. Gunaratne, after his blitz in South Africa and Australia, was picked by MI in the IPL auction. He can be a valuable addition to their XI.

Parthiv Patel will open the innings along with Jos Buttler. The duo did a decent job before falling to Imran Tahir’s spin. Nonetheless, the duo will be given another run before Rohit comes in at No. 3. Ambati Rayudu reportedly had a groin injury during the previous clash and is ruled out of action for at least a week. This puts MI in a fix. He may be replaced by Gunaratne at 4. Nitish Rana will be given another run at No. 5 before Kieron Pollard shows up at 6.

The Pandya brothers, Krunal and Hardik, will take up the responsibility of slogging in the end. The duo, apart from turning up as floaters in batting line-up, add value with their bowling skills. The younger Pandya, Hardik, will be in good stead after his mavericks ensured MI crossed the 180-run mark against RPS.

The remaining slots will be taken up by three main bowlers, in form of veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh, Lasith Malinga, and Jasprit Bumrah. Harbhajan missed the last tie (Mahela Jayawardene termed his omission as tactical) and may return to the playing XI, owing to MI’s spin woes. They cannot afford to rely on Krunal alone in the middle overs. However, it will be tough to drop their regular pacer, Mitchell McClenaghan. This will increase the workload of Pollard. On the hindsight, their batting order will get more power by accommodating a place for Gunaratne.

MI likely XI: Parthiv Patel (wk), Jos Buttler, Rohit Sharma (c), Asela Gunaratne, Nitish Rana, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Hardik Pandya, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga

Moving onto KKR…

There are no prizes for guessing who will walk out as openers for KKR. Gambhir-Chris Lynn did a splendid job in their task of chasing 184 versus GL. The pair recorded the highest opening stand in IPL history and made a mockery of GL’s total. Lynn’s astonishing knock will continue to hold Robin Uthappa at No. 3. Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan and Suryakumar Yadav make a solid middle order. The trio are capable of rotating the strike as well as hitting the odd boundaries from time to time.

Shakib Al Hasan missed KKR’s opening game owing to national duty, but will be an easy pick for this game. He will add value with his left arm orthodox spin along with being handy with the willow. Chris Woakes will fill in as the second all-rounder. He will spearhead the bowling attack and add more depth to the batting. Following him, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav will come at No. 9 and 10 respectively. Both are effective spinners who were accurate with their line and length in their last game. The duo can also slog it around, which only adds spark to KKR’s fiery line-up.

Trent Boult will be the last man at No. 11 and first to open the bowling attack. He was a tad bit expensive on his debut for KKR, but will be given another chance to run through the opposition batsmen. On his day, he can be the best seam bowler with his accurate yorkers, late movement (though won’t be much at Wankhede) and full length deliveries.

KKR are a strong unit in terms of their bowling. Gambhir also rotates his bowlers and asks them to go for the kill. Chawla, Kuldeep, Shakib and Yusuf give enough blanket to Gambhir, who likes attacking with his tweakers. Nonetheless, Sunil Narine may face the brunt with Shakib’s arrival. In the pace battery, Woakes and Boult will trouble the batsmen with their variations.

KKR likely XI: Gautam Gambhir (c), Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa (wk), Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Shakib Al Hasan, Chris Woakes, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Trent Boult

Predictions: Form and team balance gives a certain edge to the visitors. They have a side perfectly oiled for Wankhede’s slow pitch. With 3-4 spinners, KKR can certainly rule the roost in the middle overs, pretty much like they did versus GL. On the other hand, their batting also looks more solid in comparison to MI. Overall, MI will have to spring up a much better bowling and fielding performance to notch up their first win in IPL 10 and stretch their dominance (5-1 win ratio) over the visitors at their fortress, i.e. Wankhede.

Squads:

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Jos Buttler (wk), Parthiv Patel (wk), Nicholas Pooran (wk), Krishnappa Gowtham (wk), Ambati Rayudu (wk), Lendl Simmons (wk), Kulwant Khejroliya, Karn Sharma, Saurabh Tiwary, Asela Gunaratne, Mitchell Johnson, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell McClenaghan, Shreyas Gopal, Siddhesh Lad, Vinay Kumar, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Tim Southee, Lasith Malinga, Jagadeesha Suchith, Nitish Rana, Hardik Pandya, Jasprit Bumrah, Jitesh Sharma, Deepak Punia

Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Robin Uthappa (wk), Manish Pandey, Darren Bravo, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Suryakumar Yadav, Sunil Narine, Trent Boult, Umesh Yadav, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Lynn, Rovman Powell, Ishank Jaggi, Chris Woakes, Rishi Dhawan, Sheldon Jackson (wk), Ankit Rajpoot, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Sayan Ghosh.

Time: 20:00 PM IST | 14.30 GMT