Two of the bottom three meet in the Indian Premier League on Monday in what is likely to just be a dead rubber as the Mumbai Indians go up against the Kolkata Knight Riders with pride on offer at the DY Patil Stadium.
Both these two teams have a rich history in this competition but neither of them will be adding to their haul of trophies with their fate confirmed in terms of being unable to qualify even this far out from the end of the first phase.
We all know how bad a season this has been for the Mumbai Indians but to their credit they haven’t just downed tools and jacked it in. After beginning the campaign with eight straight defeats, with the pressure off them they have won their last two matches and are beginning to look like the team we accustom them to being. They are still not firing on all cylinders but the fact they have won their two previous matches despite not being fully at their best only highlights how poor they were at the beginning of the campaign.
We are still not seeing the best of this Mumbai side with the bat but they have made the change to bring Tim David back into the side in the last two matches and his huge hitting has catapulted their early efforts into a winning score. We are also seeing them offer a much stronger performance at the end of the innings with the ball and that was something that was really letting them down at the beginning of the competition.
Kolkata Knight Riders
After reaching the final last season, the Kolkata Knight Riders carried plenty of expectation into this campaign with them but despite a good start to their campaign they have never really looked like they would match what was expected of them. After three wins in their opening four matches they now have just one win in their last seven, a run which has ended their hopes of reaching the final stage of the tournament.
That might mean that they free up from here and their aggressive batters can play with a freedom which makes them dangerous with nothing to lose. It is their batting which needs to improve because in their last three defeats they have failed to score 150 and even though these pitches are slowly beginning to tire, scores above that figure are still needed to win matches. Kolkata are crying out for someone to score big in their top four to lay a platform for the big hitting middle order.
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Tim David has been the star for the Mumbai Indians with the bat in the last couple of matches and you sense if they are going to get home in this match he will need to go big at the end of the innings given the likelihood of the Kolkata spinners grounding the middle of the 20 overs to a halt.
Sunil Narine finally made it into double figures with the bat for Kolkata in a losing cause last time out and they could really do with him coming to the party with the bat and the ball while the top order is struggling for runs.
It has taken a while but the Mumbai Indians look to have found the right combinations and as a result of that I think they will win this match. They have a really dominant record over the Kolkata Knight Riders and I’ve seen nothing over the last week or so that suggests that anything will be different here. Slowly but surely the Mumbai top order are starting to come to the party and they have more than enough at the back end of an innings to accelerate from a decent platform.
Kolkata can’t seem to buy top order runs and you sense the only way they are going to win matches is if Andre Russell delivers some pyrotechnics at the back end of the innings. You can never rule that out because he comes off more often than he doesn’t but it isn’t a great long-term strategy. Mumbai held their nerve in the death overs with the ball in the win over the Gujarat Titans and that will give them a lot of confidence. They seem to still be playing strong despite not being able to qualify and I expect them to pick up another win here.
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