IPL 2014 - KKR vs MI: Onus on Mumbai Indians to harness the gathered momentum
Mumbai Indians’ failure to win even a single game in the United Arab Emirates-leg of this IPL season has meant that, despite winning 3 of their last 4 games, the defending IPL champions have only a slim chance of making it to the play-offs. The Rohit Sharma-led side would need to win their remaining 5 games if they are to make that last play-off spot.
Having said that, momentum is a massive factor in any sport, and I believe that Mumbai Indians have done well to gather some of that in the last couple of weeks.
The batting unit, which looked woefully out of touch during the UAE leg, has come good in the last 5-6 games and has actually made the difference in Mumbai winning those tight games against Kings XI Punjab and Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Jasprit Bumrah and Harbhajan Singh have to be lauded for their bowling efforts, and it’s largely due to their wickets and economical overs that Mumbai Indians still find themselves with the slightest of chances of making it to the last 4. Rohit Sharma has to be given due credit for the way he has managed to get the best out of the limited bowling options at hand.
Tonight’s game against Kolkata Knight Riders at Cuttack will be a battle of the equals I would think, going by what the two teams have managed to do so far this season.
The Knight Riders, although they have played some good cricket, will dread the fact that they lost two cliffhangers against Rajasthan Royals, and those two games could prove fatal in their bid to make it to the play-offs. They are 4th in the league table currently and are just 2 points ahead of Mumbai, having played the same number of games.
Robin Uthappa has found some form lately and has been a force to reckon with at the top of the Knight Riders’ batting order. His partnership with Gautam Gambhir was crucial to the Kolkata-based franchise winning their last game against Kings XI Punjab. Conspicuously, the disintegration of this pair after a century stand for the first wicket against Rajasthan Royals at Ahmedabad instigated a devastating capitulation, and Mumbai Indians will be well aware of that.
On the bowling front, Sunil Narine’s overs will once again be a major talking point, and it will be compelling to see how Mumbai Indians deal him.
On paper, though, the Knight Riders should not intimidate Mumbai, and it will be the better side on the night that will grab those crucial 2 points.
Mumbai Indians are expected to play with the same line-up that thumped the Sunrisers by 7 wickets the other night at Hyderabad, and the proposition is clear for MI: just win all of your remaining fixtures and seal that last play-off spot.