Mumbai hot favourites against battered KKR (Preview)

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Kolkata, April 27 (IANS) With an enviable head-to-head record to back them, in-form Mumbai Indians will look to cement their place in the playoffs by knocking Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) out of the competition when the two sides meet in an Indian Premier League (IPL) fixture at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.

Mumbai are placed second in the table with 14 points from 11 games. Their comprehensive 46-run victory over table-toppers Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Friday night, helped them inch closer to a last-four berth with three matches remaining.

Incidentally, Mumbai will play KKR twice in the space of one week.

The Rohit Sharma-led side have been KKR’s nemesis ever since the tournament began, racking up a mammoth 18 wins to KKR’s five in 23 meetings.

While Mumbai have been in good form with skipper Rohit also finding his touch against MS Dhoni-less CSK with a match-winning 67, it has fallen apart for KKR.

Dinesh Karthik’s men lost six games in a row and are all but out of a playoff reckoning. A defeat on the morrow would ensure their early exit.

Karthik played a lone hand in their three-wicket loss to Rajasthan Royals here on Thursday with a career-best 97. KKR were on course to register a much-needed triumph when 17-year old Riyan Parag and Jofra Archer combined for a 44-run stand to take the game away from them.

KKR’s poor pace bowling effort once again came to the fore as none of the pacers helped spinners Sunil Narine (2/25) and Piyush Chawla (3/20) who accounted for five wickets together and kept the run flow in check.

The decision to once again leave World Cup bound star India chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav also raised eyebrows as KKR stuck to pacer Prithvi Raj who, in the end, bowled just two overs going for 28 runs.

Harry Gurney was also left out for all-rounder Carlos Brathwaite who failed with both bat and ball. Karthik silenced his critics with an excellent knock but failed to inspire his team to a win, further putting pressure on him as captain.

For the battered hosts, it won’t be any better going by form and past record against Mumbai. The three-time champions have so far played as a team and the likes of Quinton de Kock, Hardik Pandya, Keiron Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah have all been in good form.

At Eden, Mumbai have won seven times out of a possible nine.

Squads:

Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (captain), Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Joe Denly, Lockie Ferguson, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Harry Gurnley, Kuldeep Yadav, Piyush Chawla, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, KC Cariappa, Shubman Gill, Rinku Singh, Shrikant Mundhe, Nikhil Naik, Anrich Nortje, Prithvi Raj, Prasidh Krishna.

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock (WK), Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jason Behrendorff, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan, Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav, Beuran Hendricks.

–IANS

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