Stumbling teams look to revive campaigns
Match factsApril 24, 2013
Start time 2000 (1430 GMT)
Big PictureKolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians. Defending champions and the most high-profile line-up in the IPL. A third of the way into IPL 2013, they sit at No. 6 and No. 7 on the points table. That in itself might not be too alarming at this stage, given how teams can flit up and down the table in the space of a couple of games; more worrying for the sides would be their performances in their previous two games. While Knight Riders failed to win key moments with the ball and close out the games when ahead, Mumbai Indians looked completely hapless in theirs, losing by 87 runs and nine wickets.
Both teams have selection matters to mull. Knight Riders will have to decide whether to allow the big-hitting Brendon McCullum a chance ahead of Eoin Morgan, though that seems unlikely. Captain Gautam Gambhir hinted on the eve of the match that Knight Riders would stick with Morgan - who has been doing well for the team - as it was a choice between wanting "McCullum at the top or a finisher in the middle". Mumbai Indians captain Ricky Ponting, meanwhile, will once again have to see whether he fits into his team's line-up at all.
The game comes with a subplot: it coincides with Sachin Tendulkar's 40th birthday. The Cricket Association of Bengal and Mumbai Indians' management have several plans to celebrate the occasion, including a 40-pound chocolate cake reportedly made of cocoa from Ghana and Madagascar. Tendulkar - whose half-century in the previous game, against Delhi Daredevils, came at a strike-rate that is barely passable in Twenty20 cricket - and his team will be hoping for an on-field performance that does not mar the day's festivities.
Form guideMumbai Indians LLWWW (most recent first)
Kolkata Knight Riders LLWLL
In the spotlightGambhir apart, Knight Riders' Indian batsmen have been underperforming. As the captain pointed out, one of Knight Riders' main problems this season is "our middle-order which is not getting runs". In their six games Manoj Tiwary and Yusuf Pathan, two major cogs in their middle order, have averaged 21.50 and 14.80. Knight Riders bumped Yusuf up to the opener's slot in their previous match in a bid to get him back into form. They'll definitely need more from these two as the tournament progresses.
Mumbai Indians produced one of the poorest bowling performances in IPL cricket on Sunday. Munaf Patel, one of the more experienced bowlers in their line-up, was especially woeful, consistently straying on leg stump despite having fine leg up. He conceded nine an over. The rest of the line-up, Lasith Malinga aside, were even more expensive. A rejig is definitely on the cards.
Stats and Trivia
- Lasith Malinga is five wickets short of the 200 mark in Twenty20 cricket. Only Alfonso Thomas and Dirk Nannes are ahead of him
- Kieron Pollard needs two sixes to become the second player behind Chris Gayle to get to 250 sixes in T20s
Quotes"We are playing good cricket. We are getting there gradually. All we need is a win. A victory would put our campaign back on track."
Mumbai Indians coach John Wright doesn't think his team is too far off track
"Playing as defending champions itself is the biggest motivation. Otherwise you should be sitting at home and watch others play. Wearing a KKR jersey itself is the biggest motivation. There are many more in the dressing room who are dying to wear the jersey."
Gautam Gambhir attempts to snap his flagging team back into action
Nikita Bastian is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo