IPL 2018: MI threat looms large as KKR up against odds

MI, which is enjoying a late upswing in its performance, kept its cool the other day to beat KKR on home turf.

Kolkata Knight Riders will be hoping for Sunil Narine to come good.   -  AFP

The Indian Premier League tussle between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday promises to be another duel of nerves.

MI, which is enjoying a late upswing in its performance, kept its cool the other day to beat KKR on home turf. It will be interesting to see whether the Rohit Sharma-led side maintains its momentum in the away fixture.

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KKR was primarily done in by the fine all-round showing of the colourful Hardik Pandya, who dazzled with bat and ball in the death overs.

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Other than containing Hardik and his brother Krunal — who is equally effective with his batting and left-arm spin — the Dinesh Karthik-captained team must think about tackling Jasprit Bumrah. The pacer with an unusual action has an enviable economy rate of less than seven and does the dual role of providing breakthroughs and stifling the rivals with precision.

The host needs to re-look at its run chase which let the side down against MI. The health issue of Sunil Narine, who has emerged as a dependable attacking batsman up the order, forced Karthik to shuffle the batting order and face disappointment.

KKR, which has lost 17 of its 21 matches against MI, would be keen to see opener Chris Lynn ignore his sore shoulder and convert his brisk starts to bigger scores.

“I was probably a little bit nervous and apprehensive early on. Of late, I can bat with freedom,” said Lynn.

“There is tension out there in the middle because of the rivalry we have built over the years. They got the better of us in Mumbai and we would definitely be looking to get one back,” he added.

The form of Karthik, Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana should provide a lot of confidence to the Kolkata side.

In bowling, KKR’s over-dependence on its spin trio is well known. Mitchell Johnson’s indifferent form and the lack of depth in pace department didn’t help matters. The fitness issue of young Shivam Mavi is a worrying factor too.

Top MI batsmen, including Rohit, Suryakumar Yadav, Evin Lewis and Ishan Kishan, will have their ploy ready to exploit KKR’s weaknesses.

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