IPL 2021: MI take on KKR in blockbuster clash

Ayaz Memon/Mumbai
Filed on April 12, 2021
Mumbai Indians failed to fire in the opening match against RCB. — Twitter

The head-to-head record between the two teams shows a massive skew in favour of Mumbai

Defending champions Mumbai Indians play two-time winners Kolkata Knight Riders in this marquee clash which has always attracted great attention because of the cricketing as well as celebrity ownership quotient attached to both teams.

There have been some hugely interesting and close matches in the past, but the head-to-head record between the two teams shows a massive skew in favour of Mumbai (21-6, with one no result from 27 games) which should caution Kolkata against overconfidence irrespective of how the opening matches of both teams have panned out this season.

On Sunday night, Kolkata benefited because of some poor bowling by the Sunrisers Hyderabad pace bowlers to notch up a formidable 187. The vulnerable batting line-up of the opposition – lacking experience barring the top 3-4 -- couldn’t reach the target despite valiant efforts of Jonny Bairstow, Manish Pandey and Abdul Samad.

The 10-run margin of victory shows the match was quite close. A more versatile team, with better balance in batting and more penetrative bowlers, could have made it far more difficult for KKR. The Mumbai Indians have this kind of depth, as well as experience in both departments. To that, add also keenness to get on the points table.

In spelling out Mumbai Indians’ virtues and strengths, one can’t overlook the fact that in the first match defeat against the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the explosive middle/lower order of Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya failed to fire, and the team finished with a modest score of 159.

This will not be enough against the Knight Riders who, with Nitish Rana and Rahul Tripathi showing excellent form, may not have the same top order jitters they suffered last season.

But like Mumbai Indians, the Knight Riders’ finishers – Andre Russell and Eoin Morgan -- will have to pull their weight.

Mumbai were not well served by their spinners Rahul Chahar and Krunal in the opening match, which allowed RCB to extricate themselves from the shackles imposed by Jasprit Bumrah and Marco Jansen, the beanpole young fast bowler who impressed with pace, control and accuracy.

It is unlikely that there will be any shift in the bowling composition for Mumbai. The Chepauk pitch does help bowlers, and the team management will be loath to play only one slow bowler. If there is any change in the playing XI, it could ironically be Chris Lynn, their top-scorer against the RCB, that could miss out on a place.

The Knight Riders are also unlikely to make major changes. Shakib Al Hasan was preferred over old hand Sunil Narine in the first match, and the Bangladesh maestro should hold his place after a decent first outing.

There is some debate over Harbhajan Singh, who made his debut for KKR in the first match and was given only one over.

But on the Chepauk pitch, teams that have the resources, do play with three spinners. Moreover, Harbhajan spent a couple of seasons with CSK which can be an advantage.

Players To Watch Out For:

MI: Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav

KKR: Shubman Gill, Prasidh Krishna, Dinesh Karthik

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