History favours MI against KKR

Mumbai Indians has won both its titles at the Eden and the captain Rohit Sharma has an even sweeter relationship with the ground having scored centuries in all formats of the game.

Rohit Sharma has scored centuries in all three formats at Eden Gardens.   -  K. R. Deepak

Mumbai Indians’ good vibes with Eden Gardens will be bothering the host Kolkata Knight Riders as the reigning champion takes on the former titlist in an interesting IPL 9 match here on Wednesday.

Mumbai Indians has won both its titles at the Eden and the captain Rohit Sharma has an even sweeter relationship with the ground having scored centuries in all formats of the game. The Herculean 264 against Sri Lanka in November 2014, that shattered the world record in the ODIs, is still fresh in the minds of the Eden Gardens crowd. In the IPL his 109 (2012) and unbeaten 98 (2015) have made him one of the best performers on this ground. All these factors will come together to motivate the defending champion to go for its first win after a disheartening nine-wicket loss against the debutant Rising Pune Supergiants in the opening match of this season.

If the records are discounted then KKR would be drawing inspiration from the thumping start it had with a nine-wicket win over Delhi Daredevils two days ago. Captain Gautam Gambhir, who has not played international T20 for quite some time, quietened the doubters with an unbeaten 38 to see his team past Daredevils. That was a convincing win for the host, which has for the last few seasons emerged a consistent performer at home. But in a closely strung league fixture the starts are most often deceiving as it became evident last year where KKR missed the play-offs despite being on top of the standings after 12 games.

On the other hand, Mumbai Indians has set a trend of being a slow starter. If the previous two seasons offer any indications the Mumbai Indians’ approach is truly suited for a long haul where it has peaked at the right stage after suffering a string of losses initially. For the host, the emphatic win on Sunday will definitely enhance its confidence, but Gambhir may well be thinking of the fact that the batting was not exposed to a real test.

The KKR bowling was quite emphatic even in the absence of the key West Indian spinner Sunil Narine, who missed the opener as he had to return home to perform his father’s last rites. With the likes of Australian Brad Hogg and Piyush Chawla returning figures of three for 19 and two for 21, Gambhir will be in doubt whether to change the winning combination when Narine rejoins the side on Tuesday night.

The only one to perform for Mumbai Indians in the last match – off-spinner Harbhajan Singh – will have a lot to do on the Eden wicket where he has had some memorable performances in the past. The visitor will be hoping that its batting line-up, having the likes of Rohit Sharma, Lendl Simmons, Jos Buttler and Kieron Pollard, does justice to its potential and get the team on the winning track.