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mi, KKR seek knockout punch
Two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders would be eager to avenge their twin defeats in the league stage when they face old foes Mumbai Indians in the IPL Qualifier 2 here on Friday.
KKR have an abysmal 5-15 head-to-head record against Mumbai Indians, who notched up twin victories over their rivals in the league stage of the tournament this season.
In fact, Mumbai Indians had pulled off their first -win of the season against KKR at the Wankhede stadium last month when they beat them by four wickets with just one ball to spare. Needing 60 runs off last 24 balls, Hardik Pandya had finished the job in dramatic fashion, smashing 29 off 11 balls.
Mumbai once again got the better of KKR when they handed them a nine-run defeat in their last league match at Edens Gardens.
On Friday, MI and KKR will face each other once again with the IPL final spot at stake after suffering contrasting fates in qualifier 1 and eliminator respectively. Mumbai are coming into the match after a 20-run defeat against Rising Pune Supergiant, while KKR defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad by seven wickets via Duckworth-Lewis method in a rain-truncated eliminator Thursday night.
Both Mumbai and KKR have won the IPL trophy twice in the last nine editions and a win will take them to the final against Rising Pune Supergiant to be played in Hyderabad on Sunday.
Mumbai's batting has been remarkable this season with openers Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel giving them good starts and skipper Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayadu and Kieron Pollard firing in unison.
Adding to this, the Pandya brothers — Hardik and Krunal — have been exceptionally good whenever the team has needed them.
With 10 victories in the league stage, table-toppers MI have been in rampaging form and they would like to forget their defeat against Pune and rise to the big occasion.
In bowling, Mumbai may continue to open their attack with Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga and Kiwi Mitchell McClenaghan.
Jasprit Bumrah has been their best death overs specialist and along with Hardik, he will have to play a key role to restrict KKR, which boasts of some big names like Chris Lynn, Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa, among others.
After clinching a win against Hyderabad Thursday night, the Shah Rukh Khan-owned side would like to continue its winning momentum.
KKR would hope Lynn, who just scored six in the last match, comes to the party. Lynn had scored a quick-fire fifty off just 21 balls against Gujarat Lions on his return at Chinnaswamy stadium after recovering from an injury.
Lynn had an excellent start to the season when he stitched a record opening partnership of 184 with skipper Gambhir against Gujarat and went on to score an unbeaten 93.
Sunil Narine's pyrotechnics as a pinch-hitter have helped KKR's cause. He had blasted 50 off just 15 balls against Royal Challengers Bangalore to equal the record for the fastest fifty in the IPL and Gambhir would hope the Trinidadian to come up with another whirlwind innings.
Among others, KKR also boasts of Manish Pandey and Robin Uthappa, who have scored 396 and 387 runs respectively.
Uthappa, though would like to forget the previous match after he scored just one when he was asked to open the innings with Lynn.
Gambhir, who is placed in the second spot in the most runs list with 486 runs, will hope to lead from the front. He was in red-hot form early in the season but seemed a tad off-colour in the business end.
As far as their bowling is concerned, Chris Woakes (17 wickets) and Umesh Yadav (16 wickets) have been on song, while Nathan Coulter-Nile performed splendidly in the eliminator with 3 wicket.
They have their task cut out to stop Simmons and Rohit at the top of the order, and Rayadu and Pollard in the middle.
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