KKR need victory and a bit of luck to make playoffs

Shot in the arm
Pacer Sandeep Warrier, centre, has been impressive in the limited chances he has got for KKR. AFP

Mumbai: Their playoff chances hanging in the balance, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) will leave no stone unturned when they take on Mumbai Indians (MI) with a prayer on their lips in a must-win Indian Premier League (IPL) game on Sunday.

KKR defeated Kings XI Punjab (KXIP ) to keep their playoff hopes alive till the last league game, but if Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) manage to sneak past Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) on Saturday, it might take a Herculean effort in terms of improving the net run-rate.

Placed fourth, SRH have a net run rate of +0.653, which is comparatively better than fifth-placed KKR's +0.173. In case, SRH lose to RCB, it will be like a quarterfinal for KKR as a win will do the job.

However, MI would like to carry on the winning momentum as 18 points and a better net run rate than both first-placed Chennai Super Kings and third-placed Delhi Capitals will give them two shots at qualifying for the final.

With Chris Lynn and Shubhman Gill coming good and the marauding Andre Russell to follow at No. 4, skipper Dinesh Karthik would fancy his chances at the batting-friendly Wankhede.

Gill's confidence would have boosted after his back-to-back half-centuries against MI (at home) and KXIP (at Mohali).

His unbeaten 65 off 49 balls steered KKR to a seven-wicket victory against KXIP on Friday.

However, the KKR batsman will have to put up a special show against the likes of the seasoned Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya and leggie Rahul Chahar.

Russell, who has been consistently delivering for his team, will have to showcase his prowess once again.

For KKR, their bowling has been the biggest concern as their bowlers have been ripped apart by their opponents at the death.

Pacers Harry Gurney, Sandeep Warrier, Narine and Piyush Chawla will have to bowl a tight line and length to restrict the famed Mumbai batsmen.

With the Wankhede track aiding slow bowlers, KKR may also be tempted to play chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, who has been dumped because of poor form.

Meanwhile, MI, who have already qualified for the playoffs will eye revenge after KKR after they had suffered a 34-run defeat in Kolkata in a high-scoring thriller despite Hardik Pandya's sensational 91 off 34 balls.

Also the result of the match which finalise Mumbai's position and who will be their opponents in the playoff.

For the hosts, apart from Hardik (380 runs from 13 matches), South African Quinton de Kock (462 from 13) has been among the runs. But others including Rohit Sharma (331 runs from 12), Suryakumar Yadav (292 runs from 13), Krunal (176 runs from 13) and Kieron Pollard (240 runs from 13) need to shoulder responsibility.

An area of concern for head coach Mahela Jayawardene would be the frequent middle-order collapse and he would like to sort it out before the knockouts.

The teams (from): Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (capt), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Yuvraj Singh, Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya, Krunal Pandya, Mitchell McClenaghan, Mayank Markande, Rahul Chahar, Jasprit Bumrah, Anmolpreet Singh, Siddhesh Lad, Ankul Roy, Evin Lewis, Pankaj Jaiswal, Ben Cutting, Ishan Kishan, Aditya Tare, Rasikh Salam, Barinder Sran, Jayant Yadav, Beuran Hendricks and Lasith Malinga.

Kolkata Knight Riders: Dinesh Karthik (capt), Robin Uthappa, Chris Lynn, Shubman Gill, Andre Russell, Carlos Brathwaite, Sunil Narine, Piyush Chawla, Kuldeep Yadav, Nikhil Naik, Joe Denly, Shrikant Mundhe, Nitish Rana, Sandeep Warrier, Prasidh Krishna, Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney, Matt Kelly, K C Cariappa and Yarra Prithviraj.

Match starts at 8 pm