Ex-champs KKR open campaign vs Mumbai Indians
Abu Dhabi: Defending champions Mumbai Indians (MI) will be keenly looking to bring their campaign back on track, after the reverse in the IPL opener against the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), when they clash with former champions Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in their second match at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium here on Wednesday.
While the four-time IPL champions, led by Rohit Sharma, started their 2020 campaign with a defeat, the Dinesh Karthik-led KKR is yet to hit the ground. But Mumbai will take confidence from the fact that historically they have had the upper hand against KKR in head-to-head clashes, having won 19 of the 25 matches.
In their game against CSK on Saturday, opener Quinton de Kock gave a great start to Mumbai. However, the middle-order batsmen failed to convert it into a big total, except Saurabh Tiwary, who showed some character with his 31-ball 42.
As a result, Mumbai managed 162/9 in the allotted 20 overs, and then their bowlers also let them down by failing to stop the CSK batters, especially Ambati Rayudu and Faf du Plessis, who both were the chief architect of their team's comfortable victory.
Despite having some explosive and experienced batsmen in their middle-order, like Hardik Pandya and Keiron Pollard, Mumbai succumbed to their opponents. Their team management will surely aim to rectify the mistakes as they head into the game against KKR.
Also, although the Mumbai bowlers did well in the initial overs of play when they reduced the CSK to 6/2, they later struggled to keep the momentum going, especially after the power play. They will need to stop the flow of runs in the slog overs, and if they succeed pressure will automatically shift on to the opponents.
Once again, Rohit and de Kock will open for Mumbai and the team management would not like to any changes vis-ï¿½-vis their playing XI as it's just the beginning of the tournament.
Also, when most of the Mumbai frontline bowlers were economical, Jasprit Bumrah leaked 43 runs from his allotted quota of four overs and got just one wicket in return. If Mumbai want to make a comeback into the competition, Bumrah will need to deliver the goods.
KKR will take comfort from the fact that when the UAE hosted the first half of the tournament in 2014 they ended up lifting the coveted trophy after outclassing Kings XI Punjab in a high-scoring final.
For this year's edition of the lucrative league, the KKR released their seasoned campaigners like Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, and Piyush Chawla, and acquired the services of Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, and Tom Banton.
KKR's batting attack features some exciting young prospects, Nitish Rana and Shubman Gill being two such players. Also, to further strengthen their batting, the franchise signed Tom Banton, who came into limelight after his exploits in English T20 and Big Bash leagues.
With Andre Russell, the KKR middle order looks destructive among all IPL teams and after the arrival of England captain Eoin Morgan, it is only going to grow stronger.
Narine is likely to open with either Tom Banton or Shubman Gill and they all are well capable to hand flying starts to their team.
Over the years, it has been seen that KKR's success depended a lot on their spinners and the team's spin attack consist of Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, and mystery spinner Varun Chakravarthy.
However, Chakravarthy hasn't played much in the IPL so far and thus, the spin workload will be shared between Narine and Kuldeep.
In Chris Green, KKR has another spin option. However, he is unlikely to get a call in the playing XI as he lacks IPL experience.
After a disappointing IPL last year, the KKR franchise decided to boost their pace attack and included experienced Pat Cummins. Lockie Ferguson, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, and Shivam Mavi are the other pace bowling options for KKR while Ali Khan, who caught the eye of KKR with his stunning performances in the Carribean Premier League, could come as a surprise package for Mumbai batsmen if he's included in the XI.
On paper, Mumbai dominate the Dinesh Karthik-led KKR after winning 19 of the 25 games the two sides have played so far. But with the change in playing conditions and the venue, KKR are capable of upsetting the four-time IPL champions.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (captain), Sherfane Rutherford, Suryakumar Yadav, Anmolpreet Singh, Chris Lynn, Saurabh Tiwary, Ishan Kishan (wicket-keeper), Quinton de Kock (w-k), Aditya Tare (w-k), Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Anukul Roy, Dhawal Kulkarni, Jaspreet Bumrah, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Mohsin Khan, Prince Balwant Rai Singh, Digvijay Deshmukh, Jayant Yadav, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Pattinson
KKR: Dinesh Karthik (captain/wicket-keeper), Andre Russell, Sunil Narine, Kuldeep Yadav, Shubman Gill, Lockie Ferguson, Nitish Rana, Rinku Singh, Prasidh Krishna, Sandeep Warrier, Ali Khan, Kamlesh Nagarkoti, Shivam Mavi, Siddhesh Lad, Pat Cummins, Eoin Morgan, Tom Banton (wicket-keeper), Rahul Tripathi, Varun Chakravarthy, M Siddhartha, Nikhil Naik, and Chris Green.