The Mumbai Indians welcome the Kolkata Knight Riders to the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday in a match that will see the winners seal a spot in the play-off round of the 2012 Indian Premier League (IPL).
The hosts are second in the table with 18 points and the Knight Riders third with 17. Thanks to the uneven fixture scheduling, the two teams are facing each other for the second time in five days and that too in the final week of the league phase. In either case, Harbhajan Singh's men were clinical and won comfortably at the Eden Gardens in the reverse fixture.
Mumbai will come into the game on the back of a thrilling win over the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Monday. Ambati Rayudu came to the team's rescue after the top order failed while chasing a competitive 170-plus target. The Mumbai bowlers have also been in fine fettle this season, with Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga as threatening as ever. A little more consistency in batting could give the Mumbai Indians a serious title push.
Meanwhile, Kolkata's campaign appears to be failing at a crunch time. With a top-heavy batting line-up, they have been relying too much on openers Gautam Gambhir and Brendon McCullum and the rest of the batting has not been able to cope. This was evident in the way they collapsed against the Chennai Super Kings - they went from 99/0 in 11 overs to end at 158. Shakib Al Hasan could come back to the Knight Riders' line-up to replace Marchant de Lange, who was punished severely by the Super Kings batsmen. Shakib, who took Sachin Tendulkar's wicket at Eden Gardens, could be lethal on the slow Wankhede wicket, along with Sunil Narine.
The Indians are clear favourites to win this tie and seal a place in the play-offs, thanks to their form but do not count the Knight Riders out as the likes of Narine and Shakib could spin the game in their favour. Tendulkar could miss the match as he is expected to take his oath as a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha in New Delhi.
- Gambhir has made six half-centuries in this campaign. The rest of his team have got just three.
- After a run of six wins, Knight Riders lost their last two matches, while Indians have two consecutive wins.
- However, Mumbai have lost four out of seven home matches this season on an erratic Wankhede pitch.
Mumbai Indians: Herschelle Gibbs, Tirumalasetti Suman, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ambati Rayudu, Dwayne Smith, Kieron Pollard, Harbhajan Singh (c), Lasith Malinga, RP Singh, Munaf Patel
Kolkata Knight Riders: Gautam Gambhir (c), Brendon McCullum (wk), Jacques Kallis, Manoj Tiwary, Yusuf Pathan, Shakib Al Hasan, Debabrata Das, Laxmi Shukla, Rajat Bhatia, Lakshmipathy Balaji, Sunil Narine