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It's time, once again, for the most lopsided clash in IPL history to commence. Irrespective of Kolkata Knight Riders' form in years gone by, when they face Mumbai Indians, they simply crumble. The data reads 20-6 in favour of Mumbai, and when history combines with form, it's only fair to say that the defending champions start as favourites against a team that will have a new captain following Dinesh Karthik stepping aside.

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Rohit Sharma's men are hunting for their fifth straight win, having cruised to victory in all four games since October began. All the batsmen have raised their hands across different matches, their fast bowlers have the most wickets among all teams, the spinners have regained their mojo after a sluggish start, and with half the league stage left, they already have one foot in the playoffs.

The Knight Riders have been fairly successful this season, even winning a few games they had no business of winning, but their losses have often been blowouts. And that means while the Knight Riders are in the top four, their net run rate is well into the negatives. With Mumbai up next, and three teams just two points behind them, the pressure is on Eoin Morgan's men to ensure they don't slide further. They come into the contest following a heavy 82-run loss, and with the status of Sunil Narine still up in the air, they'll need to pull something out of the ordinary to beat the team they have failed the most against.

In the news

Narine did not play the Knight Riders' game against Royal Challengers Bangalore and talk from their captain and coach Brendon McCullum to the broadcasters in that match suggested it had to do with the warning he received for a suspect action. In a separate statement, the franchise had said they are working closely with the IPL authorities to address the issue, and it remains to be seen whether that is now behind them.

Previous meeting

Sharma tore into the young Knight Riders with 80, Pat Cummins conceded 49 runs in three overs and the three Mumbai seamers shared six wickets to seal a comfortable 49-run win in match five of IPL 2020. That, however, was Knight Riders' first match of the season.

Likely XIs

Mumbai Indians: 1 Rohit Sharma (capt), 2 Quinton de Kock (wk), 3 Suryakumar Yadav, 4 Ishan Kishan, 5 Hardik Pandya, 6 Kieron Pollard, 7 Krunal Pandya, 8 Trent Boult, 9 James Pattinson, 10 Rahul Chahar, 11 Jasprit Bumrah

Kolkata Knight Riders: 1 Shubman Gill, 2 Rahul Tripathi, 3 Nitish Rana, 4 Eoin Morgan (capt), 5 Dinesh Karthik (wk), 6 Andre Russell, 7 Pat Cummins, 8 Lockie Ferguson, 9 Kamlesh Nagarkoti/Kuldeep Yadav, 10 Prasidh Krishna 11 Varun Chakravarthy

Strategy punt

  • The Knight Riders may want to bring in Lockie Ferguson, the fast bowler, in place of top-order batsman Tom Banton. Ferguson is known to be a tight death-overs bowler, and enjoys that short/back of a length area to bowl at, which will work well against Pollard and the Pandya brothers, who all enjoy the ball pitched up in the death overs.

  • If the Knight Riders do choose to persist with Banton, they should look to ensure it doesn't affect Tripathi's favoured position as opener. Tripathi thrives in the top two, averaging 32.8 as opener, including five IPL fifties, while averaging only 18.4 with no half-centuries in other positions. Banton, too, enjoys opening and if Gill can adapt, he should be the No. 3 instead. Banton has a strike-rate of more than 150 as a T20 opener but when he doesn't open, not only does his strike-rate fall but he also averages less than 20. It will also set Gill up to face more overs of spin, which he strikes at 125 against compared to 115 against pace this season.

  • Mumbai should try to dominate Cummins' spell in the powerplay. In games that the Knight Riders lose, Cummins' powerplay economy has been 9.2. When the Knight Riders win, it's because Cummins has set the tone in the first six overs, where he has an economy of 5.2 in their victories.

Stats and trivia

  • With a minimum of five overs, Cummins has the worst economy (13.1) among fast bowlers between overs 7 to 20.

  • Gill averages 61.7 in games that Knight Riders have won in IPL 2020.

  • Mumbai is one of only two teams to have five batsmen with 150+ runs this season, and five bowlers with 5+ wickets. They have also made just one change all season: Kishan for Saurabh Tiwary in match three, and have fielded the same team ever since.

  • Rohit's 904 runs against the Knight Riders is the most for any batsman against a single IPL team.

  • Mumbai's Boult has taken the same number of wickets (6) in the Powerplay as the whole Knight Riders bowling unit in the same period.

*9.45am GMT - the preview was updated after news broke that Morgan replaced Karthik as Knight Riders captain for the season