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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Stage set for Hardik, Russell fireworks as Knight Riders eye playoff spot

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Agarkar: Russell needs to step up with the ball (5:05)

Daniel Vettori and Ajit Agarkar talk about KKR's obstacles if they bat first, their bowling form, and more (5:05)

Big picture

No one has elicited fear quite like Andre Russell and Hardik Pandya in IPL 2019. After an epic face-off at Eden Gardens, where Hardik's late heroics with the bat were pipped by Russell's all-round show, the stage is set for round two and the venue couldn't have been a better one.

Wankhede Stadium has seen 874 sixes hit, the second most for any ground in IPL history. Russell hits a four every 2.4 balls, Hardik every 3.2. The difference in their balls per six is greater as Hardik hits one every 6.3 balls, while Russell takes just 3.7 balls to clear the ropes. How both captains and bowlers try to minimise the damage against these two gun batsmen on a fast-scoring ground would make for compelling viewing.

Bowling has been a major issue for Knight Riders, despite the two recent wins - over Mumbai at home and Kings XI away. While Sandeep Warrier has been a good addition with the new ball, compared to Mumbai, they still leak runs at a higher economy rate in all three phases of the game: Powerplay, seven to 15 and the last five. They were smashed recently by Sam Curran in Mohali, as the last four went for 51.

What might encourage them is the success spinners have had at Wankhede lately. Knight Riders have the pair of Shimron Hetmyer and Gurkeerat Singh to thank for keeping their hopes alive. With Royal Challengers Bangalore beating Sunrisers Hyderabad in Bengaluru on Saturday night, the equation is simple: Knight Riders need to win on Sunday, the margin is irrelevant. Should they slip up, though, Sunrisers will go through with a higher net run rate. For Mumbai, a win will clinch a top-two finish, ensuring that they have two shots at making the final, the first of those in Chennai where they haven't lost since 2011.

Previous meeting

Knight Riders snapped a six-match losing streak after the promotions of Shubman Gill and Andre Russell up the order worked wonders. They posted 232 and had Mumbai on the mat before Hardik Pandya blazed to a 34-ball 91 that had Mumbai believing briefly. Russell picked up two wickets with the ball in addition to his 40-ball unbeaten 80 as Knight Riders won by 34 runs.

Likely XIs

Mumbai Indians: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Quinton de Kock, 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Evin Lewis/Ben Cutting, 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Rahul Chahar, 9 Jasprit Bumrah, 10 Lasith Malinga, 11 Barinder Sran

Knight Riders: 1 Chris Lynn, 2 Shubman Gill, 3 Robbie Uthappa, 4 Dinesh Karthik, 5 Andre Russell, 6 Nitish Rana, 7 Rinku Singh, 8 Sunil Narine, 9 Piyush Chawla, 10 Harry Gurney, 11 Sandeep Warrier

Strategy punt

  • Russell hasn't been tested enough against left-arm pacers this season and Mumbai have three of those to choose from. Since 2015, Russell has fallen five times to left-arm pace in just 54 deliveries in IPLs. To that end, Mumbai could consider roping in one of Jason Behrendorff or Beuran Hendricks in place of Lasith Malinga, in addition to Barinder Sran, who played the last match.

  • Mumbai's top three; Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock and Suryakumar Yadav have all fallen to the pull shot regularly since last season: 6, 7 and 7 times. With the extra bounce available at the Wankhede, Knight Riders could consider bolstering their pace attack by including Lockie Ferguson instead of Harry Gurney, who relies more on cutters.

  • Mumbai have won six of the nine matches in which they have batted first this season. Their bowlers have shown to be more adept at defending targets: concede only 7.7 RPO as compared to 10.2 when bowling first, average 21.9 runs per wicket as against 42.8 bowling first, and strike every 17 deliveries vs 25.3 bowling first. But can they afford to bat first against Knight Riders, who have the best record in run chases this season, having won four out of five matches?

Stats that matter

  • Suryakumar Yadav has the seventh-worst batting average for players with over 200 runs this season: 24.33. Furthermore, he has repeatedly squandered starts, with just one fifty in 13 matches.

  • Knight Riders' fate has often been decided by their bowling performance in the Powerplay. When they have gone for over nine runs an over during that period, they have gone on to lose all three matches. Conversely, when they have conceded less than seven runs an over in the Powerplay, they have won three of the four matches.

  • Andre Russell needs 34 runs to reach 5000 in T20s

  • Rohit Sharma needs four sixes for 100 sixes in IPL as a captain

  • This will be Rohit's 150th match for Mumbai Indians

  • Dinesh Karthik needs two more catches to reach 150 in T20s