A place in the VIVO IPL 2017 Final will be up for grabs when the Kolkata Knight Riders meet their nemesis Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2.
MI finished the league season at the top of the table before they stumbled against Rising Pune Supergiant in Qualifier 1. MI, who’d won nine of their first 11 matches, havelost a bit of momentum in the last week; they have won only one of their last four matches and hence feature in this knockout clash. There are no reasons to be alarmed; MI will draw inspiration from knowing they took this same route when they won the title in 2013. They will believe they have what it takes to progress past this hurdle;they have all bases covered, and if they apply themselves well, they should compete.
KKR are in this contest by virtue of their win over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Eliminator. KKR had the opportunity to top the table, but they lost their final league stage fixture against MI and had to settle for fourth place in the standings. KKR were brilliant – particularly with the ball – against SRH on Wednesday night and will go into this match full of confidence; they restricted a formidable SRH batting line-up to 129, and though they appeared to have pressed the panic button momentarily in the shortened run-chase,Gambhir steered them home calmly.
Only one these two teams can progress to the title clash. Who will it be?
19May 2017, 2000 Hrs IST
M Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru
A captain leading from the front or setting the tone can have a huge positive influence on the team, and hence Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhirwill be expected to make telling contributions for their respective teams. Both players have unimpressive records in playoff matches, but this is the stage they need to rise to the occasion. Rohit has been inconsistent; every significant score from his willow has followed a single-digit score, and this is the stage for him to get a big score. Experience and big-match temperament are two factors which play a huge role in such high-pressure matches, and it is for these virtues - along with his ability to anchor the innings – that Gambhir will be an important player for KKR.
Among other batsmen, KKR will want Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine (who might be pushed back to top of the order) to establish momentum. Keen an eye on the two Pandya brothers – who thrive under pressure – too.
Among the bowlers, look out for Nathan Coulter-Nile in the KKR line-up, and Mitchell McClenaghan in the MI line-up.
Match within the match
Given Rohit Sharma’s well-documented struggles against spinners this season, him facing up to Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla promises to make for an interesting contest. The other contest to look out for is Chris Lynn against Mitchell McClenaghan; the KKR opener has come out all guns blazing this season, while McClenaghan has been brilliant with the ball early on.
Head to Head
Overall: Matches played – 20, Mumbai Indians Won – 15, Kolkata Knight Riders Won – 5
Since 2015: Matches played – 6, Mumbai Indians Won – 5, Kolkata Knight Riders Won – 1
When these teams met for the first time this season, Nitish Rana scored a half-century, and Hardik Pandya blitzed away to 29 from 11 balls to help MI chase 179 at the Wankhede Stadium. In the return fixture in Kolkata, MI’s bench strength came to the fore as Ambati Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary scored half-centuries in MI’s 173-5, and the bowlers then restricted the hosts to 164-8. MI won that second fixture by 9 runs to make it 2-0 in the season.
The two captains – Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhir – have dismal records in playoff/knockout stage matches; the former averages 12.31 in 14 playoff/knockout matches while Gambhir averages 16.63 from 9 such matches.
MI have an outstanding record in IPL matches in Bengaluru; they’ve won 7 of their 9 matches at the venue.
Rohit Sharma has scored more runs against KKR than against any other team; he has scored 684 runs against KKR at an average of 48.86.
The Kolkata Knight Riders have the best scoring rate in the powerplay overs – 9.69, while the Mumbai Indians have the best scoring rate in the death overs – 10.71.
On the bowling front, MI have the best economy rate in the powerplay overs – 7.67.
Both Rohit Sharma and Gautam Gambhirare field-first captains; while Rohit has opted to field on 8 of the 9 occasions he has won the toss, Gambhir has opted to chase on each of the nine occasions he’s won the toss this season.
The winner of this match will progress to the title clash where they will meet Rising Pune Supergiant; the final will be played in Hyderabad on May 21. For the losers, this match will be the end of the road here VIVO IPL 2017 is concerned.