Head-to-head advantage boost for Mumbai against Gambhir’s knights

Amidst threat of more rain, Kolkata Knight Riders take on Mumbai Indians in the Qualifier 2 match of the IPL 2017 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.

Published: 19th May 2017 02:03 AM  |   Last Updated: 19th May 2017 05:51 AM   |  A+A-

fun and frolic! Despite losing Qualifier 1, Mumbai Indians players seem relaxed ahead of their virtual semifinal against Kolkata Knight Riders, on Thursday | (Jithendra M | EPS)

Express News Service

BENGALURU: Amidst threat of more rain, Kolkata Knight Riders take on Mumbai Indians in the Qualifier 2 match of the IPL 2017 at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday. The Eliminator here on Wednesday night almost saw last year’s champions Sunrisers Hyderabad go through due to rain.

Though KKR bowled well to restrict SRH to a modest 128, they could have very well been eliminated from the tournament. With that behind them, there is a lot of work for KKR to do.

They have lost to Mumbai Indians in both matches in the league stage and there is now no option but to win this if they want a shot at the title. This goes for MI too as their show was far from satisfactory in the first Qualifier that saw Rising Pune Supergiant reach the final. Both teams have won the title twice each and the desire to add a third will probably be motivation enough.

“We have to rest up and get as much recovery as we can. We will have our team meeting. We have played them twice already and we know what they are going to bring. We know what to do against them. We are aware of what the wicket is like and I think that is an advantage for us. They have not played us for a while and we are going through our processes,” said bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile after Wednesday’s rain-hit match.

This point keeps coming up time and again but the pitch here has not been very conducive for batting this season and it looks like the bowlers will have a better time. The Australian pacer felt as much. “It was a difficult wicket definitely. The cross seamers were holding up and slower balls getting a little bit of grip. It was tough to play on but once the weather came in, it got a lot easier to bat. When the ball was wet, it actually skidded through,” he said.

The fact that there is no reserve day for the playoffs dominates other topics of discussion. The Chinnaswamy’s state-of-the-art drainage system that allowed play to start almost immediately after the rain stopped received praise from various quarters, including KKR captain Gautam Gambhir. But, the fact that matches can get disrupted to the extent that it did on Wednesday, Coulter-Nile felt this should be looked into.

“The rules probably need to be looked at. It’s 2:00 am now and you can’t play cricket at this time,” he had said in the post-match press conference.

Pros & cons

Mumbai Indians: Statistically, Mumbai hold the upper hand with a win-loss record of 15-5. They also won both encounters this year. But after finishing top of the league, their loss against Rising Pune Supergiant was a telling blow, with the failures of Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma proving crucial.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Losing four of their last five games before the playoffs must not have pleased Gambhir. Bowlers conceded crucial runs, their usually-reliable batsmen failed. However, after the rain-truncated win over Sunrisers Hyderabad, they will look to improve their record against Mumbai.

Pitch & conditions

The relaid Bengaluru track has led to least runs in IPL this year. Temperature is likely to remain in mid-thirties, with chance of thunderstorms.

vivekphadnis@newindianexpress.com

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