IPL 2018: KKR desperate to change their record against a rejuvenated MI


Kolkata: Home team Kolkata Knight Riders has a huge work in hand when they will face a resurgent Mumbai Indians in a crucial Indian Premier League encounter at the Eden Gardens tomorrow. The visitors have history in their favour as they have won 17 out of 21 matches against the hosts in the last 11 seasons.

KKR haven’t won a game against Mumbai since April 8, 2015 and after they lost the last game by 13 runs at the Wankhede it was their seven consecutive loss against MI. With five wins in their kitty the home side is losing its way in the tournament and the defending champions are peaking at the right time. The same thing had happened back in 2015 when Rohit Sharma & co. won seven of their last eight games and won the title.

Both teams have four matches left in the round-robin league, but KKR have won five matches one more than MI as a loss for any of the two sides may complicate their play-off aspirations. For KKR to overcome the past, Sunil Narine once again will have to play a crucial role both with the bat and ball.

A dehydrated Narine had to bat lower down the order in their previous clash and it did not help their 182-run chase. Narine will look to be back at the top and set them up with a fiery start. Rohit is a vital cog in MI's batting as Narine will be KKR's answer with his exploits against the opponent skipper who has been dismissed six times by the Trinidadian.

But Narine will need more backing from the other bowlers especially their pacers who have been a big let down this season. Be it veteran Mitchell Johnson or Tom Curran, both have been expensive, while all-rounder Andre Russell seems to be underbowling to preserve his troubled hamstring.

Shivam Mavi was forced to sit out with a finger injury and in his absence Prasidh Krishna did a reasonable job as it remains to be seen whether the U19 World Cup winning pacer would be back in action. With 71 required from 48 balls and a well-set Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana in the middle, KKR's chase looked under control before they were done in by a barrage of short balls.

Both Rana and Russell got out to short balls and were dismissed with addition of just 19 runs after Uthappa's fall to derail their chase which seemed achievable. Hardik Pandya, who has 14 wickets from nine matches, will be a threat with both his smart bowling and aggressive batting.

Ben Cutting was expensive with the ball with Uthappa easily smashing him for four boundaries in a row as a specialist bowler in Mustafizur Rahman may seem to be a better choice. Uthappa's first half-century (54) after 10 matches may seem to have given their fragile middle-order some relief as captain Dinesh Karthik will hope to get their act together.

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