The second of IPL’s double-header on Sunday promises to be a blockbuster at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai. Two Mumbai-born men in Rohit Sharma and Ajinkya Rahane will be leading their respective sides as Mumbai Indians take on Rajasthan Royals in what could be a campaign defining clash for both the teams.
With the race for the playoff spots getting more complex, the stakes will be as high as ever at the Wankhede for both sides who are experiencing a late resurgence.
Both sides have 10 points after 11 games each though Mumbai do enjoy the luxury of having a better net run-rate than Rajasthan. While a win for either side would put them in a strong position to make the playoffs, a loss could very well derail the campaign.
SHADES OF 2015 IN MUMBAI’S CAMPAIGN
In 2015, Mumbai Indians started their campaign with four straight losses before turning it around brilliantly to capture the title. They had their backs to the wall for much of the campaign but kept out churning win after win in the latter stages to complete a fairytale charge to the trophy.
They are experiencing something similar this year after having started with four losses in their first five games. Can they repeat their 2015 heroics? On current form, it is hard to argue otherwise.
ROYALS’ AWAY WOES
Though they have done relatively well at home in ‘Fortress Jaipur’ with three wins out of six, Rahane’s men have been abysmal on the road. They started their away campaign with a fine victory over Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Chinnaswamy Stadium but since then it has gone horribly wrong.
The side has slumped to four straight defeats away from home to Chennai Super Kings, Delhi Daredevils, Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kings XI Punjab. Of the five times the Royals have played away to Mumbai, they have ended up on the losing side on four occasions. They will need to change that trend if they are to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Mumbai Indians: Evin Lewis, Suryakumar Yadav, Rohit Sharma (c), Ishan Kishan (wk), JP Duminy, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Ben Cutting, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Jasprit Bumrah.
Rajasthan Royals: Jos Buttler (wk), Ajinkya Rahane (c), Sanju Samson, Ben Stokes, Stuart Binny, Prashant Chopra, K Gowtham, Shreyas Gopal, Jofra Archer, Jaydev Unadkat, Ish Sodhi
Kolkata Knight Riders posted their highest total in IPL history as they collected 245-6 in Indore. Sunil Narine top-scored with a 36-ball 75 while the entire Kolkata top-order chipped in with handy runs to take the Punjab bowling apart.
In reply, Punjab flexed their own batting muscles as they collected 214-8 with opener KL Rahul (66) once again the top-scorer. All-rounder Andre Russell was the wrecker in chief as he finished with 3-41.
It was a match dominated by big bats as Kolkata hit 15 sixes while Punjab went one step further with 16 of them.
NO STOPPING NARINE
It took 10 years for Kolkata Knight Riders to surpass their total of 222/3 in the first ever IPL match.— Sampath Bandarupalli (@SampathStats) May 12, 2018
However, no KKR player has scored a century after Brendon McCullum's 158* in that game. #IPL2018 #KXIPvKKR
Kolkata Knight Riders have gone back to the tried and tested Sunil Narine at the top of the order after pushing him down the order midway in IPL 2018. A docile Indore track and a Punjab attack lacking severely in the pace department was never going to trouble the West Indian.
Narine not only hit a 36-ball 75 that included nine fours and four sixes, he caused actual damage to the Punjab line-up when he drove ace spinner Mujeeb ur Rahman straight back to the bowler in the fourth over. The ball hit the young Afghan on his bowling hand and forced the spinner out of the attack.
By the time Mujeeb returned to the field, Kolkata had amassed 169 for three in 15 overs and the onslaught was well and truly on.
NO CENTURY, NO PROBLEM
Kolkata’s previous highest total was 222-3 in the first ever IPL game – against the Royal Challengers Bangalore. Then, a certain Brendon McCullum had smashed a then record 158 not out. However since then, not a single Kolkata batsman has hit an IPL century.
On Saturday, the Knight Riders easily surpassed their previous highest total in IPL despite Narine’s 75 being the highest score. There was key contributions from the entire Knight Riders top order, with captain Dinesh Karthik hitting a 23-ball 50 and Andre Russell smoking 31 from 14.
HOW FLAT IS TOO FLAT?
In all, Kolkata hit 15 sixes in their innings. The boundary was barely 70 metres all around and allowed even top edges and mistimed sweeps to go beyond the boundary.
When the batsmen did connect, the ball went well into the stands. In fact, a shot by opener Chris Lynn off seamer Barinder Sran in the fifth over and by Russell off Axar Patel in 15th over landed outside the ground. Who would want to be a bowler?
NOT ALL ABOUT RAHUL
Opposition now believe that Kings XI batting starts and ends with KL Rahul. Yes, Chris Gayle is an ever-present threat but Rahul is the key. Kolkata Knight Riders didn’t get flustered as Rahul blazed away to 66 from 29 balls with seven sixes and just two fours.
Narine topped a brilliant day with the critical scalp of Rahul. Bowling the round the stumps, Rahul got into a tangle trying to slog sweep Narine and lost his woodwork.
However, captain Ravi Ashwin refused to throw in the towel. batting at number seven, Ashwin hit 22 from 45 balls to keep the fight going before being hit on the knee in the final over and be adjudged out lbw. Punjab bettered Kolkata’s six tally as they ended on 214-8.
Andre Russell is not a hundred per cent fit. But he showed that even when he is operating at less than optimum level, he is better than the rest. On Saturday, Russell first took full advantage of a short boundary and flat tack to smash a quick-fire 31 before turning up the heat with the ball.
Russell accounted for compatriot Chris Gayle, Mayank Agarwal and Karun Nair in two overs and in the end, it proved to be decisive as Punjab took the game close.
However, there was more injury concerns for Russell as he was seen clutching his hamstring and struggling to even jog on the field.
Kolkata Knight Riders amassed their highest ever score in the IPL as they smashed 245-6 against the Kings XI Punjab in Indore on Saturday.
Sunil Narine lead the way with a brutal 36-ball 75 before key contributions from the entire top order enabled the Knight Riders to reach the imposing total.
Left-arm spinner Axar Patel went for 52 runs in his four overs.
In reply, Kings XI Punjab batted valiantly but fell 31 runs short in the end. A 29-ball 66 from KL Rahul and 22-ball 45 from skipper Ravichandran Ashwin helped the hosts amass 214-8 in their chase. Andre Russell picked up three Punjab wickets while going for 41 runs in his four overs.
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