IPL: Kolkata Knight Riders vs Mumbai Indians Preview

Cricketer hits ball

We preview Wednesday's IPL encounter that will see the Kolkata Knight Riders welcome the Mumbai Indians to Eden Gardens. 

Kolkata and Mumbai met less than a week ago, when the home side triumphed in front of an appreciative Wankhede Stadium crowd to remain in contention for a play-off berth.

This time, the Knight Riders have homeground advantage - and are determined not to be leapfrogged to fourth position in the eight-team standings by Wednesday's opposition.

KKR vs MI | Wednesday, 9 May | Eden Gardens, Kolkata | 16:30

To Win Match
Kolkata Knight Riders 82/100 
Tie 35/1
Mumbai Indians 21/20

Kolkata Knight Riders
Kolkata have just one player in each of the lists of the 2018 tournament's top 10 wicket-takers and run-scorers, suggesting they rely more on a team effort than the standout performances of one or two individuals. This is in stark contrast to Mumbai, who have a string of stars dotted across the top 10s, but very few elsewhere.

It's this collective cohesion rather than isolated measure that has them superior to Mumbai in the current standings. Such is the seesaw nature of Twenty20 cricket, though, they're consistently just one victory or defeat away from a play-off berth, or being ruled out of the competition entirely. Wednesday, then, comes with another must-win scenario.

Whether or not they return Sunil Narine to the top of the order or prefer Tom Curran to Mitchell Johnson hangs in the balance, while Piyush Chawla's deployment through the opening powerplay again would be questionable at best. Rohit Sharma and middle-order company won't miss out on freebie fodder, so the leg-spinner will have to be on point, all the time.

On a batting front, the Mumbai seam attack can be a bit samey, so if spinner Krunal Pandya doesn't enter the fray relatively early, opportunity will knock to get on top of Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah, Ben Cutting and Hardik Pandya. The latter effectively won the match for Mumbai when they met Kolkata last week - and will be key again.

Mumbai Indians
The lengthy debate about where Sharma should bat in the order continues. Shunted from opener to four, then three and now back to four, that's where he'll presumably remain. It makes sense, too, particularly if Evin Lewis doesn't fire at the top of the knock, Kieron Pollard doesn't play and while JP Duminy is still trying to find his feet amid stop-start game time.

Their defence of an 180-odd total last week was superb, but there might be a bit of an over-reliance on McClenaghan and the Pandyas on the go. Herein, lies the importance of Cutting. He has arrived late to the piece, but now finds himself as an integral part of an attack eager to see its back-up seamer succeed. The pressure might toll on the Aussie.

This has not been a great follow-up campaign for the 2017 champions, who have lacked the steel and zeal displayed throughout last season's title-winning stint. They still, marginally, have a chance to turn things around, though. Let's see if it's a case of too little too late, or just enough with the right timing.

Suryakumar Yadav has been a real treat, outshining bigger names time and time again. On the brink of scoring 400 runs in this year's competition, a 50 or more would see him surpass Hyderabad's Kane Williamson and Chennai's Ambati Rayudu right to the top of the 2018 IPL' top run-scorers. He scored 59 against Kolkata last time, so it bodes well.

Verdict: Mumbai Indians 21/20
Mumbai have won seven of their last eight matches against Kolkata - and this dominance won't likely end on Wednesday, but might not be enough to book a play-off berth regardless.

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Written by Jonhenry Wilson for Hollywoodbets

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