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KKR’s chance to exploit Chinnaswamy familiarity

Prakash Govindasreenivasan

For a good portion of IPL 2017, Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders took turns to head the points table. Their league-stage form warranted a meeting in the summit clash – to provide a befitting end to a decade in the league as one could’ve gone home with the most number of titles. But, here they are, on the penultimate step, still needing to outwit each other if the dream for a third crown is to be kept alive.

MI have done the double over KKR this year, but that will count for very little going into Friday’s fixture. Gautam Gambhir’s men successfully endured Bengaluru’s notorious weather, and dumped out the defending champions in the Eliminator on Wednesday (err, wee hours of Thursday morning), and are expected to be better equipped for the conditions.

However, an uncharacteristic Wankhede surface, where MI were found wanting in the qualifier against RPS, may have inadvertantly taught the former a lesson or two about dealing with a sticky wicket. Whether they were attentive to that or not, will be determined by how they approach their batting against KKR. A game of such high stakes could call for teams to summon the brawny side of the game, but as demonstrated by KKR’s six-over chase of 48, method over madness is likelier to prevail.

Consistency has been the bedrock of the campaigns for both these sides. A slump for either of them has not been more than two defeats on the trot, but such a stat will mean nothing to either if Friday’s game turns out to be their last of the season.

When: Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders, Qualifier II, May 19, 2017 – 20:00 IST

Where: M. Chinnaswamy stadium, Bangalore

What to expect: Another long night in the offing in Bengaluru as thunderstorms are expected around 6 PM and 10 PM. The recently-upgraded drainage facility at M. Chinnaswamy awaits its second stern test in three days.

Since there is no reserve day, a Super Over will decide the winner in case rain denies a full match. If the conditions aren’t good enough for that as well, then Mumbai Indians will go through by the virtue of finishing ahead of KKR in the league.

History: Mumbai Indians have had the wood over fellow two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders – with 15 wins in 20 encounters. Interestingly, none of those 20 have come in the knockout stages.

Team News

Kolkata Knight Riders

Manish Pandey was ruled out of the ongoing Indian Premier League, late on Thursday evening with a side strain, and that is a big blow to the Knight Riders’ unit. The onus is now on Ishank Jaggi to repay the team management’s faith for giving him his first go in a crucial playoff fixture two days ago. Considering the pace troika of Umesh Yadav, Trent Boult and Nathan Coulter-Nile rendered a good balance to the attack, and Yusuf Pathan also considered to fill in with an over or two of spin, there could be a toss up between Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav for the spinner’s spot.

Probable XI: Chris Lynn, Sunil Narine, Gautam Gambhir (c), Robin Uthappa (wk), Ishank Jaggi, Yusuf Pathan, Suryakumar Yadav, Piyush Chawla/Kuldeep Yadav, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Trent Boult, Umesh Yadav

Mumbai Indians

Ambati Rayudu and Nitish Rana batted in adjacent nets, yet there will be space for only one of them in the final line-up. Rayudu earned his spot after a half-century in MI’s last league stage game against KKR, but fell for a duck in the all-important qualifier. Rohit Sharma could be tempted to lean towards the consistency of Rana, who has 333 runs in 12 outings.

Rohit Sharma could also have a decision on his hands with regards to Harbhajan Singh and Karn Sharma. Harbhajan hasn’t played since being toyed with by Kings XI Punjab, but if packing the side with experience is on Rohit’s priority list, then the offspinner could be drafted in.

Probable XI: Lendl Simmons, Parthiv Patel, Rohit Sharma, Nitish Rana/Ambati Rayudu, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Harbhajan Singh/Karn Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Lasith Malinga

What they said:

“We have lost games before. It is not the end of the world. We are gonna go back and see what we can do in Bangalore.” – Rohit Sharma wasn’t too shaken by his side’s defeat in the Qualifier, considering they get a second chance in Bengaluru.

“The fast bowlers were getting nice carry. I feel, the teams batting here try to get 180. If you try for 150-160, it is more sensible. Sometimes you need to assess the conditions quickly.” – Gautam Gambhir on assessing the tricky surface at the M. Chinnaswamy.

Did you know?

MI has beaten KKR 15 times across 20 matches in IPL – the most by a team against an opposition. MI has also won the last five matches against KKR.

MI has won seven out of the nine IPL games they played at the Chinnaswamy including the last three. Their only play-off match here was in 2012, which they lost to CSK.

Gautam Gambhir needs 14 more runs to become the third player after Virat Kohli and David Warner to score 500 runs in a season on four instances.

Among those who have faced at least 100 balls in play-offs/knockouts, Kieron Pollard possesses the best strike rate – 171.88.

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