IPL 2019: Mumbai Indians plays for top two finish, Kolkata Knight Riders for playoffs

Having made it to the playoffs with a game to spare, Mumbai will be aiming for two points and break into the top two in the points table.

Kolkata Knight Riders desperately needs a win to qualify to the playoffs.   -  AFP Photo

It has been quite a bumpy ride for Kolkata Knight Riders in this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Dinesh Karthik-led side, lost the steam mid-way, after starting the campaign on a winning note.

And as it faces Mumbai Indians in its last league fixture at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday, all it needs is a clear win to seal a play-off berth.

With Sunrisers Hyderabad going down to Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kolkata Knight Riders -- 12 points in its kitty from 13 games -- must ensure there's no slip-up.

However, at the Wankhede Stadium, where Mumbai Indians has enjoyed success, the visiting side will have an extremely challenging task in hand.

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Having made it to the play-offs with a game to spare, Mumbai, meanwhile, will be aiming for the two points and break into the top two in the points table.

For the Rohit Sharma-led team, this is also an opportunity for vengeance as KKR had beaten it in the home game at the Eden Gardens, despite Hardik Pandya’s 91 off 34 balls.

Hardik, who has amassed 380 runs from 13 matches, will be looking to keep the momentum going against a rather listless Kolkata bowling attack. The focus will also be on the opening pair -- South African Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma. Both have been among runs, and ahead of the play-offs, they would be hoping to gain further confidence.

The home side has been a well-knit unit, frequent middle-order collapse has hurt the team. Before heading for the play-offs, this is one area that the team needs to address.

Coming into the game following a victory against Kings XI Punjab, Knight Riders needs to ensure the team doesn’t crumble under pressure. With Chris Lynn and Shubman Gill coming good and the hard-hitter Andre Russell to follow at No. 4, Knights would look to execute its plans well.

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After initial jitters, Gill has returned to form with back-to-back half-centuries -- 76 against Mumbai Indians and an unbeaten 65 against Kings XI -- and the 19-year-old will be one of the trump cards for the Kolkata outfit.

Even though Russell -- who has been consistently delivering for his team -- it would be interesting to see how the other Kolkata batsmen tackle the pace attack of Mumbai, comprising Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik.

For KKR, the major concern has been its bowling at the Powerplay and at the death. Pacers Harry Gurney, Sandeep Warrier and Prasidh Krishna have failed to impress, but with the Wankhede track helping slow bowlers, it needs to be seen how KKR uses Kuldeep Yadav, who has not been in best of forms.

With the play-off berth a step away, the Knights will walk into the ground with a prayer on their lips.

Teams (from)

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan, Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav, Beuran Hendricks, Lasith Malinga.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (C), Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney, Matt Kelly, KC Cariappa, Yarra Prithviraj.