Mumbai Indians are the most successful IPL side, having won the title five times. But they are also the slowest starters and Kolkata Knight Riders will try to take advantage of that when they meet them in Chennai on Tuesday.
MI once again were off to a losing start in this edition, while KKR recorded a convincing victory against the Sunrisers Hyderabad on Sunday. They will look to keep that momentum going.
That should give the Kolkata side an opportunity to improve the overall, rather lopsided, 6-21 head-to-head record with their rivals.
What should be pleasing for the KKR team management is that Sunday’s victory happened without much contributions from their big guns. With skipper Eoin Morgan and Andre Russell failing with the bat, it was Nitish Rana and Rahul Tripathi who prepared the foundation of their win.
But they must keep in mind that SRH bowlers were below-par and an attack led by Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult will be a different proposition.
In spite of the MI batsmen failing to put up enough runs on the board, their bowlers dragged the tie against a team which had Virat Kohli, Glenn Maxwell and AB de Villiers, till the last ball. Skipper Rohit Sharma acknowledged that when he said “I thought it was a great effort.. a great fight till the end.”
KKR would be wary of the fact that in Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya, MI have a middle-order which can blow away any attack on their day.
Although the MA Chidambaram track was expected to help the spinners, the tweakers of both MI and KKR were found wanting. While Krunal and Rahul Chahar gave away 68 runs in their eight overs picking just one wicket, KKR’s spinners, Harbhajan Singh, Shakib Al Hasan and Varun Chakravarthy, also claimed just one victim at the expense of 78 runs from nine overs. It was a bit surprising to see an experienced warrior like Harbhajan given only one over.
Having played on the surface, the hard-hitters of both sides would realise that as the pitch is playing slow, they need to spend some time in the middle before going for the big shots.
For a change the powerplays came off well for KKR, who got 50 runs without losing a wicket against SRH. And while bowling, Prasidh Krishna put the brakes on by producing a gem of a delivery to dismiss the most dangerous batsman in the rival camp, David Warner, in the second over.
With South African opener Quinton De Kock out of quarantine, MI will have a selection dilemma after a good show by Chris Lynn at the top the other night.
Two teams, who have won seven IPL titles between them, are expected to come with all their homework done.