Malinga, Bhajji in mix as under-pressure MI take on upbeat KKR


Under pressure post Steve Smith’s blitzkrieg, Mumbai Indians will be fretting over their team combination as they take on a marauding Kolkata Knight Riders in an Indian Premier League encounter, here tomorrow.

Both teams had contrasting results in their opening games with Mumbai Indians losing to Rising Pune Supergiant by seven wickets while KKR thrashing Gujarat Lions by 10 wickets.

The MI team management may be forced to make a couple of changes to bolster the bowling attack which suffered because of Kieron Pollard forced to bowl the final over where Steve Smith hit the big West Indian for two sixes.

In these circumstances, Lasith Malinga, fresh from a T20 hat-trick may replace Tim Southee in the bowling attack and the seasoned Harbhajan Singh after a baffling exclusion may come in place of Krunal Pandya, who was ordinary to say the least.

Mumbai Indians are notorious for their poor starts and will be keen to pull up their socks against a formidable KKR which tamed the Lions at their den.

Rohit Sharma may be worried about KKR’s swashbuckling opener Chris Lynn who smashed his way to an unbeaten 93 off only 41 balls. Not to forget skipper Gautam Gambhir’s 76 in an unbroken 184 run opening stand.

Mumbai will be hoping that an extra day’s rest they got would stand them in good stead against KKR, who are now playing two away games in three days.

Quite a few Mumbai batsmen got starts against Pune but failed to carry on. Their top order, including captain Rohit Sharma, floundered againt South African leggie Imran Tahir, failing to read his googlies.

KKR too have handy wrist spinners in experienced Piyush Chawla and chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav to call upon and exploit any perceived weakness in the MI’s top order.

The availability of IPL’s all-time leading wicket-taker Malinga (143 wickets) will certainly sort MI’s problem at the death overs.

Harbhajan another member of the 100 plus club (119 wickets from 125 matches) also knows how to control proceedings during the middle overs.

Pandya’s is known for his batting exploits but purely on bowling skills, one of India’s finest spinner is still miles ahead.

KKR too will have Bangladesh skipper and all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan in their ranks giving them another quality option.

The Shah Rukh Khan co-owned side have a formidable batting line-up which should find the Wankhede track, rated the best in successive years, an ideal one to express themselves.

In fact vice-captain Suryakumar Yadav has scored most of his domestic runs at this ground.

In spin department, KKR appear to have an edge over MI who appear to possess a superior pace bowling arsenal with Malinga and New Zealanders Mitchell McCleanaghan and Tim Southee and Australian Mitchell Johnson to call upon, apart from Indians Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya.

Teams (from):

Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (captain), Darren Bravo, Trent Boult, Piyush Chawla, Nathan Coulter Nile, Colin De Grandhomme, Rishi Dhawan, Sayan Ghosh, Shakib Al Hasan, Sheldon Jackson, Ishank Jaggi, Kuldeep Yadav, Chris Woakes, Chriss Lynn, Sunil Narine, Manish Pandey, Yusuf Pathan, Ankit Rajput, Suryakumar Yadav, Robin Uthappa, Umesh Yadav.

Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (Capt), Jasprit Bumrah, Jos Buttler, Shreyas Gopal, Krishnappa Gowtham, Asela Gunaratne, Harbhajan Singh, Mitchell Johnson, Kulwant Khejroliya, Siddhesh Lad, Mitchell McClenaghan, Lasith Malinga, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Parthiv Patel, Kieron Pollard, Nicholas Pooran, Deepak Punia, Nitish Rana, Ambati Rayudu, Jitesh Sharma, Karn Sharma, Lendl Simmons, Tim Southee, Jagadeesha Suchith, Saurabh Tiwary, Vinay Kumar.