Four-time champion Mumbai is on a roll, having won its last four matches, while Kolkata, which was decimated by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in its previous game in Sharjah, has plenty of problems. Hence, MI is unlikely to tinker with its playing eleven. Questions remain as to whether KKR’s key spinner Sunil Narine, who has been reported for suspect bowling action once, will play or not. It is to be remembered that the West Indian missed Kolkata’s last match versus Bangalore.
In case Narine misses out again, Mumbai will fancy its chances even more at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, the venue where skipper Rohit Sharma has scored both his half-centuries this season. Rohit, on his day, can take the game away from the opposition single-handedly and particularly enjoys playing against Kolkata.
Apart from Rohit, Quinton de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav are in good form and would like to continue in the same vein. Ishan Kishan underlined his potential with a blistering 99 against RCB, but needs to convert his starts into huge scores.
The big-hitting trio of Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya has been launching into rival attacks in the death overs. Given the triumvirate’s abilities, it can rip apart the KKR bowling unit, especially one without Narine. On the bowling front too, Mumbai looks a settled outfit, with Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah providing early breakthroughs. They are complemented well by Australian pacer James Pattinson as well as the spin-bowling pairing of Rahul Chahar and Krunal.
MI’s opponent KKR has been up and down thus far, winning four of its seven fixtures. Its biggest drawback has been the inconsistent performances of the batsmen, particularly Andre Russell, who has managed only 71 runs from seven games.
Kolkata’s batting department has also got Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, captain Dinesh Karthik and Eoin Morgan, but has failed as a unit. The team management would hope that it fires in unison to reduce pressure on young guns Rahul Tripathi and Tom Banton. Pat Cummins as usual will lead the bowling attack, which fared decently against RCB. Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav could return after warming the benches for the last few matches.