Can MI ruin KKR’s ride?

Five-time champions Mumbai Indians, who are already out of contention for the playoffs, take on Kolkata Knight Riders, who are hanging on to the  slimmest hopes of making it to the last four, at the DY Patil Stadium here on Monday.

When they last met at Pune’s Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium, KKR had inflicted a five-wicket defeat—one of an unprecedented eight suffered by MI at the start of their dismal run.

MI, placed 10th and last currently with just four points, have notched up two straight wins after their eight defeats.

KKR have spiralled downwards after a promising start, suffering four defeats in their last five matches.

Must-win situation

With just eight points from 10 matches, KKR need to win all their remaining matches and hope that other results go their way to make it to the playoffs.

Dew will be a significant factor as it has been for almost all evening games at the DY Patil Stadium, and winning the toss will be crucial.

Both teams have suffered from a lack of good openings in the Powerplay. However, MI openers Rohit Sharma, the skipper, and wicketkeeper Ishan Kishan, put on 74 in their last match which they won by five runs against toppers Gujarat Titans. The victory along with the return to some sort of form by Rohit and Kishan, both of whom scored individual forties, is an encouraging sign for MI.

Daniel Sams, the seamer, who helped MI beat Gujarat by defending nine runs in the final over, said that MI were keen to finish on a high. “Obviously, we’re not going to make the playoffs, but how we set up the rest of the tournament for us is that we’ve got a mini IPL going,” Sams said.

“So the last six games—we’ve played two of them already—we’re judging ourselves on that. We can’t make the playoffs, but we can still build on a lot of things for the coming season,” he explained.

MI have suffered from the loss of form of their pace spearhead Jasprit Bumrah, who has taken just five wickets so far and conceded 48 runs against the Titans.

In batting too, MI have been underwhelmed by the poor form of Rohit, who has averaged just under 20 runs per game, Kishan (30) and Kieron Pollard (under 15).

Suryakumar Yadav, averaging just under 44 (303 runs from eight matches) and newcomer Tilak Varma (averaging 41 with an aggregate of 328) have been MI’s bulwarks in the batting department.

Batting woes

KKR too have had their batting woes. Their batting Powerplay has been below par as conceded by head coach Brendon McCullum recently. “We struggled in the Powerplay which has been a frustration for us throughout the season,” McCullum said.

Big-built West Indian Andre Russell has been the player of the season for KKR, both with the bat (272 runs in 11 matches with a plethora of sixes) and the ball (12 wickets).

Another West Indian, Sunil Narine has performed well with the ball, but has not been effective with the bat like in previous seasons. The individual match-up between the two big-made West Indians, Pollard and Russell, is also bound to excite spectators. Captain Shreyas Iyer has scored the maximum runs (330) for KKR, although he has displayed some vulnerability against the short ball.

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