Mumbai, May 15: Kolkata Knight Riders will look to end their two match losing streak when they locks horns with rivals Mumbai Indians in game 65 of IPL 5 at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on Wednesday, May 16.
But battling against Mumbai won't be a easy task for Kolkata. Mumbai have won their last two games against Bangalore on Monday and thrashed Kolkata by 27 runs on Saturday to climb up to second place in the points table with 18 points. A win against KKR will seal a play-off spot for Mumbai.
After losing two in a row, Gambhir and Co have slipped down to third spot with just a single point separating the top two sides Mumbai and Delhi Daredevils. Another victory would literally seal their top-four place ahead of their final game against the struggling Pune Warriors on May 19.
With back-to-back wins, Mumbai cannot afford to slip at this crucial stage, especially with their batsmen failing to perform consistently. With the unpredictable Wankhede pitch, batsmen have struggled to provide a good start.
Kolkata will target Mumbai's in-form batsman Rohit Sharma, who scored his maiden century during their first leg tie on Saturday while Ambati Rayudu smashed 81 off 54 balls to seal victory against RCB.
Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar failed yet again but the inclusion of veteran South African Herschelle Gibbs in the playing XI, has strengthened their batting upfront.
But Mumbai cannot bank on a few batsmen, though Rohit is their highest run-scorer this season, he tends to lose his wicket early leaving the middle-order slog for the remainder of the innings.
Except for Lasith Malinga's bowling performance, Mumbai's bowlers have so far performed in patches. Munaf Patel's 14 wickets in 11 games have cost him plenty of runs. But Mumbai can rely on all-rounder Kieron Pollard and off-spinner Pragyan Ojha.
Meanwhile, skipper Gautam Gambhir has led Kolkata Knight Riders right from the front with the bat, top-scoring with 519 runs including six half-centuries.
Veteran Jacques Kallis(297) and Brendon McCullum(216) seem to have found their rythm back, but the inconsistent middle-order remains a major concern for Kolkata.
Yusuf Pathan managed a top-score of 40 this season against Mumbai, but his tally of 117 runs in 13 games and just 1 wicket with the bowl cannot justify his million dollar price tag.
West Indies off-spinner has been sensational for Kolkata this season with 17 wickets in 11 games with an economy rate of 5.29.
In a battle to remain at the top-four, both teams need to play to their full potential on Wednesday. Batting remains a major worry for the two sides who are separated by just 1 point.
Mumbai Indians: Harbhajan Singh (Captain), Sachin Tendulkar, Abu Nechim, Amitize Singh, Aiden Blizzard, James Franklin, Kieron Pollard, Y Chahal, Clint McKay, Herschelle Gibbs, Davy Jacobs, Richard Levi, Rahul Shukla, Dinesh Kartik, Dhawal Kulkarni, K Yadav, Lasith Malinga, Sushant Marathe, Pragyan Ojha, Munaf Patel, Robin Peterson, Sujit Nayak, Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Jaydev Shah, Rudra Pratap Singh, T Suman, Pawan Suyal, Aditya Tare, Apporva Wankhe.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Jacques Kallis, Manvinder Bisla, Manoj Tiwary, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Ryan ten Doeschate, Debabrata Das, Rajat Bhatia, Laxmipathy Balaji, Sunil Narine, Chirag Jani, Iqbal Abdulla, Iresh Saxena, Jaidev Unadkat, Laxmi Ratan Shukla, Pradeep Sangwan, Sanju Samson, Sarabjit Ladda, Mohammad Shami Ahmed, Brendon McCullum, Brett Lee, Eoin Morgan and Marchant de Lange.