IPL preview: KKR look to quell Mumbai challenge in Qualifier 2
Bengaluru: Old foes Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) and Mumbai Indians will lock horns for the third time for a place in the IPL final when they go for the Qualifer 2 at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.
KKR, who won by seven wickets against Sunrisers Hyderabad in a rain-interrupted tie in the early hours of Thursday, will have revenge on their minds as Mumbai beat them twice in the league stages this term.
The Gautam Gambhir-led KKR also have an abysmal 5-15 head-to-head record against Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai.
At home, Mumbai pulled off their first win of the season against the men in purple when they beat them by four wickets with just one ball to spare.
Needing 60 runs off last 24 balls, Hardik Pandya had finished the job in a dramatic fashion, smashing 29 off 11 balls.
Mumbai once again got the better of KKR when they handed them a nine-run defeat in their last league match at the Eden Gardens.
Mumbai are coming into the match after a 20-run defeat by Rising Pune Supergiant in Qualifier 1.
Both Mumbai and KKR have laid their hands on the IPL trophy twice in the last nine seasons.
Mumbai’s batting has been their mainstay this season with openers Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel giving the team good starts and skipper Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayadu and Kieron Pollard firing in unison.
Adding to this, the Pandya brothers — Hardik and Krunal — have come good whenever the team has needed them.
With 10 victories in the league stage, table-toppers Mumbai have been in imperious form and they would like to forget their defeat against Pune and rise to the big occasion.
As far as the bowling is concerned, Mumbai may continue to open their attack with Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga and New Zealander Mitchell McClenaghan.
Jasprit Bumrah has been their best death overs specialist and along with Hardik, he will have to play a key role to restrict KKR, which boasts of some big names like Chris Lynn, Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, among others.
After clinching a win against Hyderabad Wednesday night, KKR would like to continue their winning momentum.
It remains to be seen whether Manish Pandey is fit for the match as he was left out in the Eliminator due to a niggle.
Pandey is an important player for KKR and the team’s middle order without the India right-hander has looked pedestrian.
Skipper Gautam Gambhir, who is placed in the second spot in the most runs list with 486 runs, will hope to lead from the front. He was in red-hot form early in the season but seemed a tad off-colour in the business end.
KKR’s bowling has been superb as was on show in the last game. Fit-again Nathan Coulter-Nile has come back into the side strongly and Umesh Yadav has continued to hit the right areas and bowl well. The likes of Sunil Narine and Kuldeep Yadav have been economical.