Eye on the sky as KKR faces MI in Qualifier 2

The oscillating Bengaluru weather takes centre stage, as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) goes up against Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Qualifier 2 at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on Friday.

MI holds a 2-0 win record over this opponent this season, but KKR player Nathan Coulter-Nile is not unduly worried.   -  K. R. Deepak

The oscillating Bengaluru weather takes centre stage, as Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) goes up against Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) Qualifier 2 at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.

The prospect of rain ruining play will concern fans and players alike. Persistent showers reduced the KKR chase in the Eliminator tie—held at the same venue two days earlier—to a six-over affair. This wet interruption came only a few hours after a particularly sunny afternoon.

The stadium—armed with the impressive SubAir drainage system and an efficient groundstaff—is best equipped to minimise any damage. Even the best of technology or manpower, however, cannot get play started if there is no respite from the rain.

Players to look out for

Going by form in the league stage, it comes as a surprise that MI is in this do-or-die position. The table-topper was widely tipped to cruise into the final, but fell to Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) in

Qualifier 1. Four of the top five MI batsmen fell to single-digit scores—not a cause for alarm, but a statistic that must be reversed.

On this slow, low Bengaluru pitch, the batters must be at their very best to prise out runs. If the franchise gets into top gear, it will be the favourite to book a spot in the final.

KKR, on the other hand, is now fairly familiar with the conditions on offer. A brilliant bowling and fielding performance restricted Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) to 128 for seven on Wednesday, and despite a shaky start to the chase, the team cruised past the finish line.

MI holds a 2-0 win record over this opponent this season, but KKR player Nathan Coulter-Nile is not unduly worried. “We have to rest and recover as much as possible, and get our plans sorted out for the match. We've played them twice already, so we know what they're going to bring and what we need to do,” he said, after the victory over SRH.

Can Knight Riders reverse the tide?

The Australian cited his side's familiarity with the conditions as an advantage. “We know what the wicket is like, which is an advantage to us. I think they haven't played here in a while,” he said.

Coulter-Nile is right in his assessment—MI last played at this venue a little over a month ago.

The fast bowler added that he was unsure about Manish Pandey’s fitness. The Karnataka batsman missed the SRH outing after injuring his rib in the nets.

Spectator interest, meanwhile, took a big hit at the SRH-KKR clash. Empty seats robbed the occasion of a grand feel, with the city folk perhaps losing their zeal after Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) exited the scene.

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