The old KKR would've cruised home, but the side we've seen this season has been a far cry from Gautam Gambhir's two-time champions. They collapsed to 142/7 in their 20 overs, with none of the batsmen reaching double figures apart from the openers.
KKR had momentum on their side for that game, as they had beaten the Sunrisers Hyderabad by 10 runs in their first match of IPL 2021. They have momentum on their side now as well as they take on MI in Match 34 in Abu Dhabi on September 23, having brushed aside the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in their previous game.
In sharp contrast, MI enter this game on the back of a harrowing loss to the Chennai Super Kings in which they squandered a winning position. But they will take heart from the fact that they were faced with the same situation ahead of the KKR meeting, having gone down to RCB on the opening day of IPL 2021.
MI are barely hanging onto a top-four spot at the moment, with the Rajasthan Royals breathing down their neck. The defending champions have won only half of their eight games this season and have a negative net run rate, whereas KKR are only one win behind and boosted their net run rate significantly against RCB.
While Eoin Morgan and his men will be desperate for a potentially tournament-defining win, MI will look to their experienced stars to keep themselves ahead of the chasing pack in the IPL 2021 playoff race.
IPL 2021: MI need their senior players to step up against KKR
MI need Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya back in their playing XI against KKR. While neither batsman has lived up to his potential in IPL 2021 so far, Rohit and Hardik will add solidity to a lineup that underperformed against CSK.
Anmolpreet Singh was outfoxed after a couple of fiesty shots, while Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav played reckless strokes to be dismissed cheaply. Saurabh Tiwary notched up a fifty, but he never really generated any momentum throughout his innings. Kieron Pollard was caught on the crease like he so often is against a genuine pacer, while Krunal Pandya had another disastrous IPL outing.
Even if Rohit and Hardik aren't at their best, with a certain school of thought even claiming that MI are better off in the batting department without their skipper, the return of the two experienced professionals will greatly help the team return to winning ways. Otherwise, MI have no real problems in the bowling department apart from Krunal, who has been a liability each time he has been introduced into the attack.
Meanwhile, KKR's mystery spin duo of Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine spun a web around RCB, with others like Lockie Ferguson, Andre Russell and Prasidh Krishna chipping in with contributions. They might not have as many bowling options as they did during the first phase, but KKR have the firepower to truly test the MI batting lineup.
Venkatesh Iyer and Shubman Gill put on an enterprising opening partnership, but the rest of the KKR middle order didn't get to spend time in the middle. That was a major concern for them in the first half of IPL 2021, with Morgan, Dinesh Karthik and Russell failing to deliver. MI are known for their control over the middle overs, and KKR's under-pressure batsmen might be thrust into a terrible scenario first up in the UAE.
Although KKR have momentum on their side, MI will take heart from the impending return of Rohit and Hardik. Trent Boult recently expressed optimism that the duo will be back in action soon, and if they play against KKR, the five-time champions will start as the definite favorites.
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Prediction: MI to win Match 34 of IPL 2021