Kolkata Knight Riders, fresh off a clinical performance against Sunrisers Hyderabad, will look to correct the record against nemesis Mumbai Indians in their second IPL match on Tuesday in Chennai. Since missing the last two playoffs, KKR seemed like a totally new team in their IPL opener on Sunday, defeating SRH by 10 runs. KKR showed a fearless approach under skipper Eoin Morgan, whether it was the top-provocation order’s or Dinesh Karthik’s explosive finish.
Morgan’s intention was clear from the start, as he decided to leave out Sunil Narine, their most trusted lieutenant. Nitish Rana and Shubman Gill, the left-right opening pair, began attacking from the first ball, showing that the latest style had Morgan’s success mantra written all over it.
2020 was a season of hope for KKR, with Andre Russell, Karthik, and Morgan in the middle order, but some rudderless preparation did not support their cause.
This time, KKR has added Bangladesh superstar Shakib Al Hasan to their middle-order, while Morgan, in his first full season as captain, adds a new dimension to the team.
On Sunday, Rana’s deft wrist work and sheer strength were on full display, ensuring that they remained ahead amid Rashid Khan’s twin blows of Gill and Russell.
Following Rana’s 56-ball 80, it was Karthik’s unbeaten 22-run cameo from nine balls that helped KKR to a winning total of 187 for 6.
On Tuesday, KKR will look to come out with all guns blazing against the five-time champions. They’ve only won once in their last 12 games versus MI, and their head-to-head record is a dismal 6-21.
But, in the end, it will come down to a clash of wits between Morgan and Rohit Sharma, whose captaincy led MI to a historic fifth IPL title in the UAE last season.
MI will present a serious challenge for KKR, who will be desperate to win their first match of the season after losing by two wickets to Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL opener on Friday.
KKR had no trouble with SRH bowlers, but MI’s strike, led by Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, would be a totally different proposition.
Gill’s inability to bat at T20 pace has been a source of frustration for KKR, so it would be important to see how the young opener handles himself among the best in the game.
MI, who are notorious for being late starters, were defeated the other day by RCB’s Harshal Patel and AB de Villiers, who batted brilliantly on a two-paced wicket.
Chris Lynn was MI’s highest scorer in his debut match, but with some luck as he survived some edges and mishits.
MI’s explosive middle-order, which included Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, and the Pandya brothers — Hardik and Krunal — was kept to 159 for 9 runs.