Over time, Mumbai Indians have made it a habit. Start off slow, before it picks up again mid-season and then pounces on the teams at the back. They also started badly this time, but the margin of error could be smaller in a pool of 10 teams. That is why they have to get started quickly. There is only one problem. They will be taking on IPL 2021’s runners-up Kolkata Knight Riders, whose fiery approach to batting has brought a dazzling touch to the season thus far.
In both losses to date, Mumbai has failed to capitalize on their batters, putting them in strong positions. Against Delhi Capitals, both Rohit Sharma and Ishan Kishan struck in a robust opening stance for half a century to set up the game, but the middle order came a short cut. Against the Rajasthan Royals, they were unable to finish the game, despite going into the last six overs and needing 65 runs with seven wickets in hand.
Mumbai is also concerned about one bowling alley, which is currently occupied by Basil Thampi. In the opening match, Lalit Yadav and Axar Patel took him to the cleaners. In the second, he got 26 in in his only left. It may be time for a change. There is plenty of experience in the form of Jaydev Unadkat, but the only problem is that he is almost comparable to Tymal Mills, in terms of his slower variations and left arm variation.
Knight Riders have unlocked magic from Umesh Yadav. Throw Pat Cummins into the mix and their tempo attack looks mean. Their spinners will always ask interesting questions, provided there isn’t too much dew around.
So far, the Knight Riders with the bat have expressed a desire to play an aggressive brand of T20 cricket. It can look spectacular, like when Andre Russell went after Punjab Kings in a small chase, or fall flat, like when they were bundled up by Royal Challengers Bangalore. In the future, they will expect a lot more from the likes of Venkatesh Iyer and Ajinkya Rahane.
In the news
Cummins has completed his mandatory three-day quarantine on arrival and even trained with the team on game night, meaning he’s all set to take Sam Billings’ place in the Knight Riders XI. This means that the wicketkeeper’s place will once again be taken by Sheldon Jackson, whose glove work was impressive. Sunil Narine, Russell and Tim Southee are likely to occupy the other overseas slots.
Mumbai has a whole host of players to choose from. It remains to be seen if they will finally unleash Suryakumar Yadav, who has only just recovered from a wrist injury. If he can handle the workload of hitting in the IPL, Mumbai will likely choose him over Anmolpreet Singh.
Mumbai Indians: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Ishan Kishan (wk), 3 Suryakumar Yadav/Anmolpreet Singh, 4 Tilak Varma, 5 Kieron Pollard, 6 Tim David, 7 Daniel Sams, 8 M Ashwin, 9 Tymal Mills, 10 Jaydev Unadkat/Basil Thampi, 11 Jasper Bumrah
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Venkatesh Iyer, 2 Ajinkya Rahane, 3 Shreyas Iyer (capt), 4 Nitish Rana, 5 Sheldon Jackson, 6 Andre Russell, 7 Sunil Narine, 8 Tim Southee, 9 Pat Cummins, 10 Umesh Yadav, 11 Varun Chakravarthy
Cummins v Kishan: three innings, five balls, three wickets. Rohit to Narine: 18 innings, seven layoffs, average 19.6. How can anyone ignore such statistics? The Knight Riders only need to open with Cummins and Narine to try and take down Mumbai’s in-form batters. More so because Rohit, who started this IPL differently – he hit with 147 of his first 10 balls, will immediately come face to face with the bowler who has fired him the most in the IPL.
Statistics and trivia
Since IPL 2018, teams winning the toss have chosen to bowl every time at the MCA Stadium in Pune. But there is no significant difference in terms of results as teams hitting first and second have won four games each.
In 16 IPL games here, pacers have amassed 3.8 wickets per innings compared to spinners, who only managed 1.6. Spinners, however, have been fractionally more economical, scoring 8.3 and ahead of 8.6 by pacers.
This has been a lopsided IPL rivalry so far. Mumbai’s 75.8% win rate is the highest win rate for a team against an opponent in all IPLs.