It goes without saying that Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders are the two strongest contenders for the IPL 9 trophy,
It goes without saying that Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders are the two strongest contenders for the IPL 9 trophy, as they have been for the last few years. One is the defending champion while the other is a two-time winner. But, Mumbai and Kolkata have got off to contrasting starts in the season. While the Rohit Sharma-led side were thrashed by Rising Pune Supergiants by nine wickets in their opening encounter at home, Gautam Gambhir's Kolkata inflicted a defeat of the same margin on IPL's perennial under-achievers Delhi Daredevils. The teams will thus go into their second clash with varied emotions.
Although Mumbai would have liked to get off to a winning start, they won't be too worried with the opening game's result. After all, they are used to recovering from losses early on in the IPL. In fact, last season they went on to win the championship after losing their first four matches in a row. Perhaps, tasting defeats early on is a good omen for them. Having said that, they would be keen to get back on the winning track as early as possible. Mumbai must look at the defeat against Pune as an one-off. It was combined batting failure on the team's part, which they need to put behind and start afresh. In their minds, Mumbai will know that they are much better than their display at Wankhede.
In spite of the early reversal, Mumbai are likely to stick to mostly the same combination against Kolkata. Runs will be expected of skipper Rohit's willow. From the practice session that was seen, it has been reported that Parthiv Patel might get the nod for the match, ahead of possibly Vinay Kumar. There is also likely to be a toss up between Corey Anderson and Lendl Simmons for a spot in the eleven as it is difficult to drop anyone from among Jos Buttler, Kieron Pollard and Mitchell McClenaghan. At the same time, these guys will need to stand up and deliver. Buttler had a poor overall first match, so he will be raring to have another go.
Kolkata are not likely to make any changes to the squad that mauled Delhi a few days ago. Sunil Narine, who is returning to the team, after having left for home following his father's demise, is unlikely to feature in the starting eleven on Wednesday. This means, Brad Hogg gets another chance to prove his worth. He played a crucial role in Kolkata's victory over Delhi, bamboozlings the opposition batsmen. And if he does well against Mumbai as well, KKR will be in a dilemma. To accommodate both Narine and Hogg in the future games, they may have to leave out either Colin Munro or John Hastings, which could upset the balance of the side to some extent.
Kolkata's bowling and batting were in fine shape against Delhi. Andre Russell delivered the big blows for the team, and he was well aided by Hogg, Piyush Chawla and Hastings. Umesh Yadav must step up his game otherwise his place could come under the scanner. There wasn't much for the batsmen to do after the Kolkata bowlers restricted Delhi to under 100. Still, the think tank would be pleased to see that Gambhir and Robin Uthappa gave the team the desired good start. Nothing really went wrong for KKR in their opening match. But, that always isn't necessarily a good sign.