Mumbai Indians (MI) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) lost and won their respective IPL 2017 season openers, just as these two teams had done in the previous four seasons (2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016). MI return to their fortress, the Wankhede Stadium, for their second match, against KKR, who must be high on confidence after registering a record IPL win on Friday night against Gujarat Lions (GL).
Despite being one of the well-balanced and settled sides in this competition, Rohit Sharma’s men produced a really meek performance against the Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS). And, although Pune won with just a ball to spare, Steve Smith’s men had out-batted and out-bowled Thursday night’s visitors at the MCA Stadium in the overall equation.
Ahead of match 7 of the 10th edition of the IPL, one piece of stat you might want to know is that Mumbai Indians have a 13-5 head-to-head record against their Sunday’s opponents. Although history is quite irrelevant in any sport, Rohit and co. can take confidence from the fact that they have done well against this opposition over many seasons (9).
The probable playing XI: Mumbai Indians (MI) vs Knight Riders (KKR), April 9 (8pm)
Mumbai have a couple of team selection issues ahead of the clash against Kolkata.
MI’s middle order mainstay Ambati Rayudu was stretchered off the field because of a grade one groin tear which occurred while he was fielding against RPS.
On the plus side, pace spearhead Lasith Malinga and new recruit Asela Gunaratne have joined up with the Mumbai squad and are available for selection. The question, however, is, which of the two New Zealand seamers, Tim Southee and Mitchell McClenaghan, goes out, to make space for Malinga? Or, will both of them be dropped after ordinary showings with the ball?
The Pandya brothers enjoyed contrasting outings against RPS, with the younger Pandya (Hardik) scoring crucial runs lower down the order and his 35* (15) probably has sealed his place in the XI for the home clash against KKR. Veteran spinner Harbhajan Singh, who surprisingly wasn’t picked for the Maharashtra derby, might well come into the side for the match against Kolkata.
Therefore, here’s MI’s probable XI for the clash against KKR: 1. Rohit Sharma (C), 2. Parthiv Patel, 3. Jos Buttler, 4. Saurabh Tiwary, 5. Kieron Pollard, 6. Hardik Pandya, 7. Harbhajan Singh, 8. Mitchell Johnson, 9. Lasith Malinga, 10. Nitish Rana, and 11. Jasprit Bumrah
Actual MI playing XI vs. KKR: 1. Rohit Sharma (C), 2. Parthiv Patel, 3. Jos Buttler, 4. Krunal Pandya, 5. Kieron Pollard, 6. Hardik Pandya, 7. Harbhajan Singh, 8. Mitchell McClenaghan, 9. Lasith Malinga, 10. Nitish Rana, and 11. Jasprit Bumrah
KKR do not essentially have to make changes to their playing XI from the 10-wicket win over the Lions. Sticking to their guns, KKR fielded three spinners and not all of them got much of a purchase from a Rajkot pitch which was excellent for batting.
Going to Wankhede, where the pitch has tended to be conducive for fast bowling over the years, KKR might want to field another seamer. But on the flip side, Shakib Al Hasan, a player who has featured regularly in KKR’s colours since being bought by the franchise in 2011, has returned to the squad after the culmination of Bangladesh’s full tour of Srilanka. And the Bangladeshi all-rounder is a better batsman than Chris Woakes, so this is another option that the resourceful Knight Riders can take.
On the batting front, KKR simply look too strong and their 10-wicket win against Gujarat has sent out a strong message to the other franchises, that your bowling attack has to be spot on if you want to defend any total or restrict Kolkata to a chaseable total. Chris Lynn, at the top of the order, can do serious damage. Gautam Gambhir is a very good foil for the big-hitting Australian batsman. And then, you have the likes of Robin Uthappa, Shakib Al Hasan, Suryakumar Yadav, and Yusuf Pathan ready to cash in on the good starts provided by the openers.
KKR’s likely playing XI vs. MI: 1. Gautam Gambhir*, 2. Robin Uthappa, 3. Chris Lynn, 4. Manish Pandey, 5. Yusuf Pathan, 6. Suryakumar Yadav, 7. Ankit Singh Rajpoot, 8. Trent Boult, 9. Shakib Al Hasan, 10. Kuldeep Yadav, and 11. Sunil Narine
Actual KKR playing XI: 1. Gautam Gambhir*, 2. Robin Uthappa, 3. Chris Lynn, 4. Manish Pandey, 5. Yusuf Pathan, 6. Suryakumar Yadav, 7. Ankit Singh Rajpoot, 8. Trent Boult, 9. Chris Woakes, 10. Kuldeep Yadav, and 11. Sunil Narine