Five-time IPL champions, Mumbai Indians have had a puzzling start to the season. The plethora of injuries, including ones to their pace spearhead, Jasprit Bumrah and now a mid-season injury to Jofra Archer didn’t help the cause either. Combine that with a struggling Suryakumar Yadav, you could perfectly visualise why Mumbai are well-placed at the bottom half of the table – in the ninth position.
It has been that kind of season for them. Up against them are Kolkata Knight Riders, a side that has had mixed fortunes. Wins against Gujarat Titans and Royal Challengers Bangalore didn’t come lightly, and the loss against Sunrisers Hyderabad and Punjab Kings has taken some sheen away from their season.
But a new dawn, a new day, will they be able to defeat their unforgiving rivals, Mumbai Indians?
Wankhede is one of the truest surfaces in the country. The ball comes onto the bat nicely, as there is even bounce for the pacers. If the game against Chennai Super Kings was a true indication of the surface, then expect teams to be chasing at the venue, considering how batting becomes much easier in the second innings.
In 64 innings since IPL 2021, the average first innings score at the venue is 170, but a team needs at least 194 if they stand a chance at getting two points. It is a venue that aids teams that chase, with an average of 27.6 and a run-rate of 8.1. A lot of benefits at the venue are gained by the top-order batters.
But when it comes to the bowlers, pace is always the way to go, with 247 wickets in comparison to the 96 wickets that the spinners take. That’s 72% for the pacers, who pick up 3.9 wickets/innings on average. It is a venue that is heavily tilted towards pace units.
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For small league: Nitish Rana (capt), Tilak Varma (vice-capt)
For grand league: Shardul Thakur (capt), Rinku Singh (vice-capt)
Stats that Matter
- Wankhede is a venue which will allow pace bowlers to flourish, with 72% of the wickets at the venue taken by pacers in IPL since 2021. Ironically though, KKR and MI are the two worst pace units in this year’s competition, with an average of 57.1 and 38.3 respectively, with just eight and seven wickets.
- Andre Russell could be a real menace for Mumbai at the venue, with 133 runs in just 63 deliveries. In fact, the all-rounder averages 44.11 and strikes at 211.1 at the Wankhede Stadium, and Mumbai bowlers would want to stay away from his territory. For Mumbai, it is Ishan Kishan, who has a good record at the venue, with 137 runs.
- Since IPL 2021, Suryakumar Yadav has had a formidable record against his previous team, Kolkata Knight Riders. In his last three innings against them, the right-hander has scored 113 runs, averaging a high 37.67 at a strike-rate of 137.8, including scoring two half-centuries. His current form might be a bullet to dodge but leave him out at your own peril.
- Despite not having a lot of impact on the proceedings in the clash against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Sunil Narine still remains the most valuable bowler in this Knight Riders’ setup, with six wickets. Mumbai are Narine’s second-best opponents in the league, with 23 wickets, and an average of 22.7. What’s more incredible though is the fact that he has an economy rate of just 6.6 against the Men in Blue and Gold.
Grand League punts
- Kolkata Knight Riders’ top-order has struggled big time, and in more occasions than not, they have had to rely on the rescue act from Rinku Singh, who has scored 156 runs, at an average of 78 and a strike-rate of 175.3. With Wankhede expected to be a true batting surface, the southpaw might yet again be the player to watch out for.
- Wankhede Stadium is Shardul Thakur’s home ground, and the all-rounder has had incredible success at the venue, with 15 wickets. Not only it is the joint-most wickets he has taken at a venue, but it is also a ground that he knows inside and out. With doubts on Andre Russell’s fitness, all eyes yet again could be on Thakur to shoulder more bowling responsibility for the Knights.
Top Criclytics projections
Kolkata XI: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), N Jagadeesan, Nitish Rana (c), Venkatesh Iyer, Rinku Singh, Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Shardul Thakur, Umesh Yadav, Lockie Ferguson, Varun Chakaravarthy
Mumbai XI: Rohit Sharma (c), Ishan Kishan (wk), Cameron Green, Suryakumar Yadav, Tilak Varma, Nehal Wadhera, Hrithik Shokeen, Riley Meredith, Arshad Khan, Piyush Chawla, Jason Behrendorff