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KKR poised for playoffs, can Mumbai Indians avoid further humiliation?

KKR, under the inspirational guidance of returning mentor Gautam Gambhir, have emerged as the season's surprise package.

News Arena Network - Kolkata - UPDATED: May 10, 2024, 01:34 AM - 4 mins read

Kolkata Knight Riders player Mitchell Starc celebrates the wicket of Mumbai Indians player Gerald Coetzee during the IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians, at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday, May 3, 2024.

KKR poised for playoffs, can Mumbai Indians avoid further humiliation?

Kolkata Knight Riders player Mitchell Starc celebrates the wicket of Mumbai Indians player Gerald Coetzee during the IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians, at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Friday, May 3, 2024.


The Eden Gardens braces itself for a pulsating encounter on Saturday as the in-form Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) set their sights on a playoff berth, while the beleaguered Mumbai Indians (MI) seek some solace in the fag end of IPL 2024.

 

KKR, under the inspirational guidance of returning mentor Gautam Gambhir, have emerged as the season's surprise package. Currently perched atop the ten-team table with eight wins from eleven matches, another victory will formally secure their passage to the knockout stages. This resurgence comes after a three-year playoff drought for the two-time champions.

 

Gambhir's masterstroke of deploying Sunil Narine as an opener alongside World No. 2 T20I batsman Phil Salt has been the bedrock of KKR's batting prowess. The destructive duo has laid the foundation for imposing totals, with six scores exceeding 200 runs while batting first. 

 

Narine, in particular, has been a revelation, amassing a tournament-leading 461 runs at a staggering strike rate of 183.66. His consistency, marked by a century and three fifties, has been a nightmare for opposition bowlers. Salt, the Englishman, has complemented Narine beautifully, accumulating 429 runs at an almost identical strike rate.

 

This explosive opening partnership has, however, meant that the likes of Andre Russell and Rinku Singh, designated finishers, haven't had ample opportunities to showcase their power-hitting abilities. 

 

The duo's brilliance has also masked some shortcomings in KKR's bowling attack, particularly the inconsistency of Mitchell Starc. However, the emergence of youngsters like Angkrish Raghuvanshi at number three and the death-bowling prowess of Ramandeep Singh have bolstered the bowling department.

 

In stark contrast, Mumbai Indians, under the leadership of Hardik Pandya, hold the unfortunate distinction of being the first team eliminated from playoff contention. 

 

Their morale, however, received a shot in the arm with a morale-boosting victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in their previous encounter. MI will be keen to salvage some pride and end the season on a winning note.

 

Suryakumar Yadav has been a beacon of hope for MI and Team India fans alike. Fresh off scores of 56 and an unbeaten 102, Yadav is in scintillating form, boding well for the upcoming T20 World Cup in less than a month. 

 

However, concerns loom over the form of skipper Rohit Sharma and Pandya himself. Sharma has endured a lean patch, registering four single-digit scores and a solitary eleven in his last five outings. 

 

Pandya's struggles are even more pronounced, with his highest score this season being a meagre 46. The all-rounder's failure to cross double digits in his last six innings is a cause for worry, not just for MI but also for India's World Cup aspirations. 

 

Pandya will be desperate to rediscover his touch, as his form will be crucial to India's title defense.

Teams (from): Kolkata Knight Riders: Shreyas Iyer (c), KS Bharat (wk), Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Rinku Singh, Angkrish Raghuvanshi, Sherfane Rutherford, Manish Pandey, Andre Russell, Nitish Rana, Venkatesh Iyer, Anukul Roy, Ramandeep Singh, Varun Chakravarthy, Sunil Narine, Vaibhav Arora, Chetan Sakariya, Harshit Rana, Suyash Sharma, Mitchell Starc, Dushmantha Chameera, Sakib Hussain, Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Gus Atkinson, Allah Ghazanfar and Phil Salt.

Mumbai Indians: Hardik Pandya (c), Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Dewald Brevis, Jasprit Bumrah, Piyush Chawla, Gerald Coetzee, Tim David, Shreyas Gopal, Ishan Kishan (wk), Anshul Kamboj, Kumar Kartikeya, Akash Madhwal, Kwena Maphaka, Mohammad Nabi, Shams Mulani, Naman Dhir, Shivalik Sharma, Romario Shepherd, Arjun Tendulkar, Nuwan Thushara, Tilak Varma, Harvik Desai (wk), Nehal Wadhera and Luke Wood.

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