Mumbai Indians - Kolkata Knight Riders
With five teams fighting for two qualifying spots in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2021 playoffs, the UAE leg is all set to explode when Mumbai Indians and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) face off at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Match #34 will be massive for both sides, considering only two points separate the teams.
Death, taxes and the Indians starting an IPL season with a loss are probably the only constants in life! True to style, the Mumbai unit collapsed to a 20-run loss against Chennai Super Kings in the first match of this UAE leg. The result was a shocker in all senses because at one point it looked like a walk in the park for Mumbai when they reduced Chennai to 24/4. With an even record after eight matches, the ball is still in Mumbai’s court especially considering they have won four of their last six matches in UAE.
The potential return of their top-scorer and captain Rohit Sharma (250 runs, SR 128.20) will be a massive boost. But all eyes might be on Surya Yadav (176 runs, SR 138.58) as he looks to recreate the form that landed four consecutive 30+ scores on the tour to Sri Lanka in his last outing. The impressive Trent Boult (10 wickets, ER 8.50) will once again be their new-ball threat as Mumbai try to regain confidence against a familiar foe.
After a welcome break and a change of place, KKR stormed to life with a massive nine-wicket win with 60 balls remaining – their biggest win in terms of balls remaining. It was the fifth-fastest chase in IPL history and one that helped prop their net run rate into positive territory (+0.110). With the race for the top-four promising to go down to the wire and a chance to replace Mumbai in the top-four with a win, KKR will be praying for a magic wand that can erase their historic struggles against Mumbai.
Kolkata have lost more than three-quarters of their 28 matches against Mumbai, including four in a row. The mental block the Knight Riders have against their opponents here is real, as highlighted by their 12 losses across the last 13 matches. Hopes will be pinned on continuing their performance from their last match, as KKR target back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
Key battle: Rohit loves playing KKR and has 866 runs against them in 22 matches (avg. 50.94, SR 133.64). His last four innings vs KKR have all been 35 or more. His battle against Sunil Narine could be an interesting battle within the battle. The wrist spinner has 22 wickets vs Mumbai that includes a match-winning spell of 4/20 at this venue in 2014.
Stat attack: Trent Boult is the highest IPL wicket-taker among Kiwis (73 wickets) and has taken two wickets in four of his five matches vs KKR.
Mumbai have an 80% win-rate against KKR when winning the toss.
Rahul Chahar has ended as Mumbai’s highest wicket-taker in four matches this season, three of which ended in a win.
KKR have posted the highest opening partnership of the match in their last five matches against Mumbai.
Kolkata have hit the most 6s of the match in five of their last six fixtures.