When Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) last played against Mumbai Indians (MI) this season, it was a must win match for them to keep their hopes of making it to the playoffs. It was the first time Andre Russell batted in the top-order this season and set Eden Gardens on fire with his monstrous strikes, ending up with an unbeaten 80 off 40 deliveries to set-up a mammoth chase for MI. KKR went on to win their next game too – against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP). The scenario is not different for KKR, who need to beat MI once again to have any chance of making it to the playoffs, while for MI, it is about consolidating their place in the top 2.
Rohit’s form a worry?
Rohit Shama before the tournament began announced that he would open throughout the tournament. Given that the World Cup is just around the corner it made perfect sense. However, Rohit is now on the cusp of having the worst season for MI at Wankhede. He needs to score 21 more runs in the final home match of the season to escape this record.
Overall, 2019 could still be his second worst season in IPL for Rohit after 2018, where he managed just 286 runs from 14 matches. Rohit has scored just one fifty (67) this season. The last time he failed to score more than one fifty in an IPL season was back in 2009, when he played for Deccan Chargers.
It is crucial for Rohit to find form in this match from MI’s point of view and more importantly from India’s point of view.
At the Wankhede, getting runs at the death is once again going to be key. After Eden Gardens, the batting run-rate at Wankhede is the highest, but then it comes at the cost of teams losing lots of wickets.
In fact, at Wankhede batsmen are dismissed once every 10.6 deliveries, second worst only to Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium, Hyderabad, where the dismissal rate is 9.1. Also, after Hyderabad, Mumbai has seen the most number of wickets falling at the death.
With power-hitters like Hardik Pandya and Andre Russell set to feature in this match, one can expect more fireworks in this match, just like it was on display in the reverse fixture at Kolkata.
Poor run for KKR
If you look at KKR’s performance when they won four out of their opening five matches, the spinners – especially at the death – did an excellent job for them. While it is not customary for the spinners to come on often in the final phase of the innings, KKR spinners have come on and kept the runs down.
In the first five matches, the pacers conceded at 11.23 run per over, while the spinners pulled things back extremely well to keep the runs down to 6.62 an over. Here are the bowlers who bowled for KKR during this period:
After winning 4 out of their 5 matches, they went on a six match losing streak and as a result, they find themselves in the position they are in now. Given the start, they should have sailed through, but that has by no stretch of imagination been the case. Since taking a pounding against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), Kuldeep Yadav has not featured for the team, but given that this is a crunch match, he should perhaps be brought back into the team. To make up for Kuldeep’s absence, Piyush Chawla and Sunil Narine have bowled more at the death and have been pounded for runs.
27 of Kuldeep’s 37 runs at the death came off just one over – against RCB – when Moeen took him to the cleaners. The chinaman bowler has not been part of KKR’s XI since then.
Rohit vs Narine: Rohit’s poor form at Wankhede this season could become even worse when he comes face-to-face with Narine. Narine has dismissed Rohit six times in the IPL and has conceded just 107 runs from 99 balls. However, Narine has dismissed Rohit just once in their last five matches. Rohit has scored 30 from 28 balls in that period.
Pollard vs Chawla: Barring that one innings against KXIP, Kieron Pollard has not done much this IPL. Against Chawla, he has scored 53 off 37 deliveries and has been dismissed just once – in 2011.
Unless KKR feel the need to bring back Kuldeep, they do not need to make any changes. The spinners this season have an economy of 6.16 in the powerplays, 7.48 in the middle phase and 10.22 at the death this season at Wankhede. Using them cleverly in the first two phases will be key for both sides. Sandeep Warrier has done well in the limited opportunities he has received so far and KKR will not feel the need to drop him for this game.
With Shubman Gill cementing his place as an opener – having scored three fifties from four innings this season as an opener. It is highly that KKR will experiment by sending Narine in place of Gill at the top in this match.
KKR: Dinesh Karthik (c & wk), Piyush Chawla, Robin Uthappa, Sunil Narine, Harry Gurney, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Sandeep Warrier, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Shubman Gill
Talking about MI, Barinder Sran looks to be the only weak link in an otherwise perfect XI. Being a left-handed bowler, variation is the only thing he offers to the side. Also, Evin Lewis’ form is a bit of a worry. He has not been at his free-flowing best. Getting Ben Cutting back will not be a bad option as he use the long handle to good effect and also chip in with a few vital overs, which adds depth to MI’s batting and bowling to a certain extent.
MI: Lasith Malinga, Rohit Sharma (c), Kieron Pollard, Suryakumar Yadav, Quinton de Kock (wk), Evin Lewis/Ben Cutting, Barinder Sran, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Rahul Chahar