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Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai 15 May 2012 - 10:39pm IST

Preview: Match 65 – MI v KKR

Possible playoff spot up for grabs as MI host KKR

What

As a result of Mumbai Indians’ recent last-over win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore, the Kolkata Knight Riders slipped down from the first two places in league standings for the first time in three weeks.

The Mumbai Indians should consider themselves fortunate to be where they are; though they haven’t been anywhere close to their potential, they are one win away from sealing a berth in the playoffs. KKR were unstoppable in mid-tournament, but defeats in their last two matches (to MI and CSK) have meant they still need the one win to ensure a berth in the playoffs.

When

Wednesday, May 16, 2012, 08:00 p.m.


Where


Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai


The Protagonists


With 228 runs and just one half-century to his credit in 10 innings, it would be fair to say – given the standards he has set – Sachin Tendulkar has underperformed so far. Due to MI’s problems at the top of the order and the importance of this game, expect the Little Master to come out more determined and play the sheet anchor role, like he did for most part of the last season.

There’s no question about the talent and ability of Rohit Sharma. However, the lack of sound temperament and consistency has often been held against him. Worryingly for the Mumbai Indians and for Indian cricket, that trend has continued this IPL as well. Every inning from the MI batsman, following a meaningful one, has produced a low score. The 25-year-old needs to appreciate the importance of performing consistently, especially since a lot rides on these last few games.

The two players in the KKR line-up who stand way above the rest are their skipper Gautam Gambhir and spinner Sunil Narine. Gambhir has not allowed the burden of captaincy affect his batting, and has instead performed better with the added responsibility. The southpaw has scored six half-centuries in 11 innings since deciding to open the innings, and he appears to be on top of his game.

Narine, meanwhile, has been unplayable almost every single time he has got the ball in his hand. Apart from being his team’s leading wicket-taker (15 wickets), the Trinidadian has also plugged the scoring rate by strangling the opposition; his economy rate in IPL 2012 is 5.29.

Previous Meetings

Whenever the Mumbai Indians and the Kolkata Knight Riders have gone head-to-head, the former have generally emerged victors. In the nine meetings between the two teams, MI have been triumphant on eight occasions. KKR registered their only victory over MI when they beat them by nine wickets at the Eden Gardens in IPL 2010.

In the most recent meeting between the two teams at Kolkata earlier this season, MI beat KKR by 27 runs. Powered by Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten 109, the visitors posted 182 for one while batting first; they then restricted the hosts to 155 for four.

Trivia

Lasith Malinga had picked up wickets in each of his first eight matches in IPL 2012, but he has gone wicket-less in the next three matches.

What next?

The Mumbai Indians will next feature in the final league fixture of the season when they take on the Rajasthan Royals at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on May 20. The Kolkata Knight Riders, meanwhile, will finish their league schedule with an away clash against the Pune Warriors India on May 19.

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