Mumbai aim to stay in top four
Match factsSaturday, May 12, 2012
Start time 1600 (1030 GMT)
Big PictureThe tournament is nearly 60 games old, and Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders are playing their first game. Knight Riders are on an upswing like never before. Part of their six-match winning streak included a comprehensive win against Delhi Daredevils, who have since reclaimed the No.1 spot. Knight Riders, now with 17 points, are back at Eden Gardens and a win will take them back to the pole position and closer to the playoffs. Their top order looks as stable as Royal Challengers Bangalore's, but should they fail, chasing a low total against them can never be taken for granted as there's Sunil Narine to be dealt with. He has rarely let the side down, maintaining a frugal economy rate as well as picking up wickets.
Mumbai Indians, now at No.4 (following Royal Challengers' win over Pune Warriors), have lacked the stability and consistency that has defined the current top two teams. Their bowling is always one notch higher when Lasith Malinga is fit. The batting though doesn't inspire the same confidence. They lost a good toss against Royal Challengers at the Wankhede Stadium and were pegged back early in seaming conditions. A continuing mystery is their handling of Kieron Pollard. Unlike Royal Challengers, who use their most attacking option - Chris Gayle - right at the top, Pollard often comes in at the lower middle order and has little time to play himself in and salvage late runs. Though Pollard isn't a natural opener, it wouldn't hurt to send him a couple of positions higher.
Mumbai need to play catch up in their remaining games to seal a place in the playoffs.
Form guide(most recent first, completed games)
Mumbai Indians: LWWWL
Kolkata Knight Riders: WWWWW
These teams played just once last year - the last of the league games - which Mumbai Indians won by five wickets at Eden Gardens.
Players to watchMumbai Indians have opening worries, starting with James Franklin. He has just two runs from his last two innings and didn't bowl against Royal Challengers. Herschelle Gibbs could have replaced him but his fitness is still in doubt.
Rajat Bhatia has been a regular in the Knight Riders' line-up and has picked up eight wickets at an economy rate of 7.04. He is an experienced campaigner in the domestic circuit and Knight Riders rate him highly.
Stats and trivia
- Mumbai Indians have an overwhelming head-to-head record against the Knight Riders, winning seven out of eight games.
- Mumbai Indians' Indian bowlers concede 7.50 runs per over, while the figure for the overseas bowlers is 6.76.
Quotes"The middle order probably had some lack of runs but that's only because of lack of opportunities. We have been scoring runs at the top."
Knight Riders' coachTrevor Bayliss.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo