Kolkata Knight Riders have a horrible record against Mumbai Indians (only seven wins in 29 encounters) but former England offspinner Graeme Swann believes Shreyas Iyer and Co. couldn’t have asked for a better time to take on the five-time champions. Mumbai are yet to win a game in the Indian Premier League 2022, while Kolkata have won two of their three matches.
“Mumbai is like a bogey team for KKR, we call it that in England. A bogey team is a team you never do well against. But it’s so different this year because this is just after the super auction. These two are almost new teams. Yes, there are some same big guns but there have been so many changes that those past results don’t really mean anything. I don’t think Baz (Brendon McCullum - KKR head coach) is someone who will look at historical events and instead will think this is a great time to play Mumbai as their confidence would be low,” Swann told Cricket.com.
Mumbai started their season with a four-wicket defeat against Delhi Capitals and were then blown away by Rajasthan Royals. Mumbai are the most successful franchise but they haven’t won their opening game of the season since 2013. On top of that, they were without Suryakumar Yadav in the first two matches. The right-hander has been their most consistent batter since 2018 and the team management would be delighted with having Suryakumar back in the set-up. And, Swann is confident that Mumbai will turn their fortunes around, as they do almost every year.
“Mumbai haven’t won a single game yet. Yes, they lose the first game every year but then get on a roll straightaway. They have got experience and such a powerful line-up. However, they have been taken to the cleaners by a couple of teams this year and that’s very unlike Mumbai. I am expecting them to bounce back. It’s a massive game for Mumbai and if they win this, they might get on a roll. If they lose this one, there will be some serious questions asked.
“Obviously, SKY didn’t play the first two games and it’s a massive thing to not have a player of his quality. This happens almost every year. There will be one team who is slow out of the blocks and then picks up steam and momentum and it’s hugely Mumbai. There is no question that will pick up as they have got a world-class team. Maybe a couple of big guns aren’t firing on all cylinders as they can. They haven’t played too badly but haven’t matched some of the other teams.”
Swann also heaped heavy praise on Umesh Yadav who has been superb this season, especially with the new ball. The right-arm paceman has claimed eight wickets in three games at an average of 7.38 and is currently the leading wicket-taker in the tournament.
“It’s like a rebirth! Umesh Yadav is back to his brilliant best. It’s great to see because he has been very quiet for the last couple of years. When we looked at the KKR squad, we thought there might be a weakness bowling with the new ball but Umesh has blown that out of the water. He has bowled brilliantly,” said Swann.
Swann is also looking forward to the battle between Jasprit Bumrah and Andre Russell. Bumrah was smoked for 43 runs in 3.2 overs against Delhi but the ace paceman made his presence felt against Rajasthan, claiming three wickets for just 17 runs. Meanwhile, Russell didn’t do much in the first two games but smashed 70* off 31 deliveries against Punjab Kings.
“I think Bumrah v Russell could decide the game. Bumrah didn’t have a great start to the tournament but bowled brilliantly in the second game. He is always going to be a massive bowler and with Andre Russell, you know he is going to throw in some short stuff and yorkers. But if Bumrah misses, the Muscle Russell is going to smash him everywhere. I always look forward to Russell playing and I hope he is batting in the last five-six overs.”