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Match 33 of the Pepsi IPL 2013 will feature defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders taking on the Mumbai Indians.
KKR have steadfastly denied that they are not feeling the pressure of being the defending champions. However with results not going their way, the pressure has started to mount on Gautam Gambhir’s team. KKR have only won two of their six matches and sit at seventh place in the table.
The formidable Mumbai Indians have meanwhile blown hot and cold. In their most recent match against the Delhi Daredevils, they posted 161 runs on the board before their bowling was decimated by Virender Sehwag and Mahela Jayawardene. They sit sixth in the table with three wins and as many defeats and will be keen to make a move up the ladder.
Wednesday, April 24, 2013, 8 p.m
Eden Gardens, Kolkata
The most important batsman in the KKR line-up is their skipper Gautam Gambhir. More often than not, when the southpaw has scored runs his team has gone on to win. It will be interesting to see if KKR can make room for the dangerous Brendon McCullum or if they continue to persist with Yusuf Pathan at the top of the order.
In the Mumbai Indians line-up, all eyes will be on Sachin Tendulkar yet again. The master appeared to be in good touch in the previous match against DD and he will be keen to give his fans something special on his 40th birthday. The talented Rohit Sharma was in sublime touch in the previous match; he and Dinesh Karthik – MI’s top run-getter this season – are the two other important characters in the MI batting line-up.
On the slow and sluggish track at the Eden Gardens, the spin twins – Sunil Narine and Sachithra Senanayake – will be at the forefront of KKR’s bowling plans. Mumbai Indians meanwhile will rely on Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson to do the bulk of the damage with the ball.
The head-to-head record between the Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians is lop-sided in favour of the latter. In the ten meetings between the two teams, the Mumbai Indians have emerged on top on eight occasions.
The average first innings total in IPL matches at Kolkata is 146.
Teams chasing have fared better than teams batting first in IPL matches at the Eden Gardens; they’ve won 19 of the 31 matches which have had a definite result.
Kolkata Knight Riders will remain at home and host Kings XI Punjab on April 26. The Mumbai Indians meanwhile head back home to host the Royal Challengers Bangalore on April 27.
WhenKolkata Knight Riders captain Gautam Gambhir speaks, he speaks with a lot of positivity and intent. The same kind of attitude that he would want from his side, especially after their back to back losses in the tournament as they face Mumbai Indians at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
When asked how Gambhir plans to keep his side motivated after suffering consecutive losses; Gambhir replied “Wearing the KKR jersey is a big motivation in itself. If you are not able to motivate yourself wearing this KKR jersey you do not deserve to be sitting in the dressing room! There are many more people dying to get into the dressing room wearing this jersey.”
I do not think I have to motivate them to get the best out of them, they have to motivate themselves. I know we have not performed the way we would have liked, but this is part and parcel of the game. Things can change very quickly. One good innings, even one or two strokes can turn things on their head,” added the captain as he addressed the press here at Kolkata.
It is a no brainer that batting has been the biggest problem for the Knight Riders in this tournament. Their middle order has barely got going while their top order has failed to fire and then there has always been a question of when Brendon McCullum would feature in the playing eleven?
For that, Gambhir said, “We have to see how we can fit in Brendon McCullum. It is difficult to replace two quality spinners (Sunil Narine and Senanayake) who have been the silver lining for us till now in the tournament after Eoin Morgan. Morgan has been in very good form and I feel he has been hitting the ball the best. It is a difficult choice to make whether you want McCullum up the order or whether you want a finisher in the middle order. At the moment our middle order hasn’t clicked, but at least with the presence of Morgan there is someone who is out there getting runs for us.”
Gambhir also believed playing Debabrata Das brought a lot more balance to the side. “Debabrata Das gives us a better balance. Das is someone who can give us that explosive power which we need in the middle overs. He is a clean striker of the ball. It was because of Das, who keeps wickets and bats at No.6, that we could get Yusuf Pathan to bat at the top of the order. We might change it tomorrow but that is one combination that we can always consider. You always need more options like these in the competition. The more options you have the better it is for the captain.”
Mumbai Indians have a power packed batting line up and KKR’s bowling abilities will be tested come Wendesday. When asked if KKR have a set plan for certain individuals in the team, Gambhir replied, “We would like to contain the entire team and not concentrate on certain individuals. We will take Mumbai Indians as a batting unit and whatever bowling attack we feel is the best to restrict them, we will stick to that.”
KKR have just four points from six games and it is time they raised their game and start winning to keep their hopes alive in the tournament. Gambhir though, believed his side was positive of making it to the top four.
“I am pretty confident that we will bounce back and make it to the top four. We want to go out there and play fearless cricket. We will be positive when we play Mumbai Indians tomorrow.”