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In-form KKR could ruin Mumbai Indians' play-off hopes

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Dasgupta: Mumbai need their big players to fire (4:32)

Shaun Tait suggests Mumbai make one change for a possibly make-or-break game against Kolkata Knight Riders: Mustafizur Rahman for Mitchell McClenaghan (4:32)

Big Picture

If Mumbai Indians think they have gained some momentum by winning two of their last three games to stay alive in the play-off race, Kolkata Knight Riders, whom they will face twice in four days, will tell them: "Hold my beer". Having stuttered a little early in the tournament, KKR have settled upon their combination and are firmly ensconced in the top half of the table, after wins in their last two games.

They strolled past Royal Challengers Bangalore on a turning pitch, with their top order playing starring roles, and then brushed aside Chennai Super Kings - argaubly the strongest side this IPL so far - with their middle order and spin trio the match-winners.

Given the range of performers for KKR this season, the one possible area of weakness Mumbai could target is the overseas fast bowler: Mitchell Johnson conceded 38 in his three overs against RCB and 51 in four against Super Kings. Tom Curran, the other option, has already leaked 85 runs in the 43 balls he has bowled in the tournament. If Mumbai can cash in on those overs, it could set the tone for the rest of their innings.

Mumbai are only one defeat from being knocked out, barring a miraculous combination of results in other games. They have ticked most boxes this season except one - winning matches. Three of their bowlers were among the top six wicket-takers before Saturday evening, their middle order has begun to shine, and their frontline batsmen have been scoring runs, barring the seven ducks Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma and Evin Lewis have collected together.

Almost all their departments came together against Kings XI Punjab on Friday night. Can Mumbai keep that collective form going?

In the news

Nitish Rana missed KKR's game against CSK with lower-back spasms that had caused him to retire hurt in their match against RCB. It remains to be seen if he has recovered fully yet.

Likely XIs

Mumbai Indians: 1 Suryakumar Yadav, 2 Evin Lewis, 3 Ishan Kishan (wk), 4 Rohit Sharma (capt), 5 JP Duminy , 6 Hardik Pandya, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Ben Cutting, 9 Mitchell McClenaghan, 10 Mayank Markande, 11 Jasprit Bumrah

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Sunil Narine, 3 Robin Uthappa, 4 Shubman Gill, 5 Nitish Rana/Rinku Singh, 6 Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), 7 Andre Russell, 8 Shivam Mavi, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Mitchell Johnson/Tom Curran, 11 Kuldeep Yadav

Strategy punt

Sunil Narine did not open the bowling against CSK and finished with 4-0-20-2, but against Mumbai there's a good case for him to take the new ball. He has a stellar record against fellow Trinidadian Evin Lewis across six innings: he has dismissed him four times in 32 balls, while only conceding 37 runs. If that doesn't work somehow, KKR could use Narine against another Trinidadian, Kieron Pollard, if he gets to play. Narine has dismissed Pollard three times in 59 deliveries while only conceding 60.

Stats that matter

  • Mumbai have won 16 of the 21 matches they have played against KKR over the years - the most wins for one IPL team against any opponent. The next best is Mumbai's 14 wins in 23 matches against RCB

  • KKR have aced four of their five chases so far this season, their 80% success rate the best of any team this season. They have, in fact, been the IPL's best chasers since IPL 2013, winning 33 times in 52 attempts (63.4%).

  • Wankhede Stadium is not a particularly spin-friendly track and Sunil Narine hasn't fared too well in away matches this season. He has picked up only one wicket and conceded 9.20 per over in four away matches compared to nine wickets at home and an economy rate of 6.00

  • Robin Uthappa is 17 runs away from becoming the sixth batsman to 4000 IPL runs

Fantasy pick

Sunil Narine has been KKR's biggest asset this season with impressive numbers in the Powerplay and outside, with both bat and ball. He is their leading wicket-taker so far, he's their most economical bowler (among those who have bowled a minimum of five overs), and he has scored his 193 runs at a strike rate of 169.29, only behind Andre Russell among the team's batsmen. Wankhede, unlike his home ground Eden Gardens, is a small ground, and if he gets going with the bat, he can collect valuable runs whether or not Chris Lynn fires at the other end.