Kolkata: Mumbai travel to Kolkata knowing very well that a win here will give them a leg-up in their bid for a playoff place. However, it won’t be easy as they are up against a team that has exceeded all expectations. Also expect the Eden Gardens crowd to make things difficult for the visitors.
Gautam Gambhir’s men have been in superb form this season and their win against Delhi Daredevils – the best team so far in the nine-team tournament – in their last match will surely have done them a lot of good. They are just one win away from the playoff qualification, so this match becomes all the more important for them. They have another motivation: a win will take them back to the top spot above Delhi.
Mumbai have also been quite impressive of late, winning three out of their last four games. However, they came a cropper against Royal Challengers Bangalore in their last match - largely because of a batting failure. Like Kolkata, they also have a lot of motivation going into the match. Out of their 12 matches so far, they have been the victors on seven occasions and a win on Saturday can bolster their chance for the playoffs.
On form, Kolkata have the upper hand but Mumbai boast a line-up of world class players. Sachin Tendulkar is back among runs with his 74 against Chennai Super Kings. Then they have batsmen like Rohit Sharma, Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard, Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu who on their day are a handful. Their bowling gives no respite to the opposition with Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga spearheading the attack. RP Singh has played a perfect foil to Malinga and with captain Harbhajan Singh also getting his form back, it becomes hard to point out any loophole in the team.
They certainly boast of a better team than Kolkata but best line-ups don’t win you matches. That’s what the IPL has taught everyone over the last five years. As for Kolkata, Gambhir has been scoring really heavily; his run of four successive fifties only got broken in the last match. Jacques Kallis, Brendon McCullum are also contributing with the bat. In Kallis’ case, he is equally effective with the ball. It was his spell that proved to be Delhi’s downfall in the last match. And then there is Brett Lee who remains difficult to score off. And last but not least, West Indian offspinner Sunil Narine whose mystery is increasing by the day.
The match really promises to be a cracker with most teams wanting Mumbai to lose as it will open up the scramble for the last two playoff spots. The first two are pretty much secured for Delhi and Kolkata.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Gautam Gambhir (capt), 2 Brendon McCullum (wk), 3 Yusuf Pathan, 4 Jacques Kallis, 5 Manoj Tiwary, 6 Debabrata Das, 7 Laxmi Ratan Shukla, 8, Rajat Bhatia, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Sunil Narine, 11 Pradeep Sangawan
Mumbai Indians: 1 James Franklin, 2 Sachin Tendulkar, 3 Rohit Sharma, 4 Ambati Rayudu, 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Dwayne Smith, 7 Kieron Pollard, 8 Harbhajan Singh (capt), 9 Lasith Malinga, 10 RP Singh, 11 Pragyan Ojha