The Indian Premier League is back in Abu Dhabi on Friday when the defending champions Mumbai Indians continue their title defence when they go up against a very hit and miss Kolkata Knight Riders side if the season so far is anything to go by.
The Mumbai Indians will be looking to move back to the top of the table with a win in this match while the Knight Riders will be looking to join them on 10 points. Although they have four wins from seven matches, Kolkata will know their net run rate is terrible so they need as many wins as possible.
When the Mumbai Indians lost their opening match there was reason to wonder if this was going to be another of those campaigns where they start off slowly and then pick up late on but in the six matches they have played since then they have only lost one match, and that came via a super over when they should have won in normal time. This is the stage in the season when we look to pick holes in potential postseason sides but there aren’t really any in this Mumbai setup.
I keep waiting for their batting to crumble and expose the likes of the Pandya brothers in the middle order but it isn’t happening and now that Quinton de Kock looks to have found his better form that horse might have bolted. That is where any weakness can be exposed because it certainly doesn’t exist in their bowling attack. They have three of the best seamers in the competition and a couple of very handy spinners backing them up.
Kolkata Knight Riders
There have been positives and negatives for the Kolkata Knight Riders this season. The positive is that they have won four matches without really ever being at their best, the negative is that their three defeats have been incredibly heavy – by 49 runs, 18 runs and 82 runs. They are not the best chasing side in the competition and one of the reasons for that is they don’t seem to be able to line their weapons up in the right order when it comes to their batting.
When it comes to defending scores the Knight Riders seem much more at home having won all three matches they have batted first in this season. It therefore goes without saying that they could do with winning the toss here, although one reason why they have been able to defend scores has been the economy of Sunil Narine. It remains to be seen whether he is going to be included here though with the fallout of his illegal bowling action ruling still taking place.
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Rohit Sharma played a classy innings of 80 in the reverse fixture between these two but in three of his five innings since then he has got out for a single figure. This would be an ideal time for the Mumbai skipper to find his form once again.
Tom Banton came in for Sunil Narine in the previous match and he has the chance to show his worth here. If he can get after the Mumbai bowlers early on and put the pressure on the spinners later in the innings it would have Kolkata ahead of the game.
It is hard to see past the Mumbai Indians at the minute. They are playing so well whereas Kolkata just have a few issues going on which is a concern. I think their bowling attack will miss Sunil Narine if he is not available here although in truth even when he did play in the reverse fixture he wasn’t much help to them. The big problem I have with Kolkata is their inability to utilise their big players in the right places in the batting order. It is like they are spoilt for choice and go with the wrong one.
I’ve been waiting for holes to appear in the Mumbai Indians all tournament but they just aren’t coming. In fact, if anything they are getting stronger and we know from seasons gone by that hey generally finish campaigns very well. I have to think they are going to win this match and do it by such a margin that they can cover what is a pretty light looking handicap against a Kolkata side who have issues on and off the field.
WON – Back Mumbai Indians (-1.5 wickets/-4.5runs) to beat Kolkata Knight Riders for a 3/10 stake at 1.73 with Bet365