When it comes to matters on consistency the opponents of the 33rd fixture of the Pepsi IPL Season VI — holder Kolkata Knight Riders and title aspirant Mumbai Indians – trace almost similar records in remaining distant from it. The tournament so far has seen the two accomplished outfits parched of notable success as they jostle in the bottom half of the table seeking redemption. With the half-way stage just round the corner a win will be high on priority when the two make their seventh outing of the tournament at the Eden Gardens on Wednesday.
Both the opponents find themselves on the same plane having lost their last two rounds. But the Knight Riders as the hosts will have the greater initiative as they make their second successive jaunt at home.
The home side has drawn up a big deficit in the win-loss account where four losses outnumber the two wins in their last six appearances.
Lying at the seventh position after back-to-back losses against Kings XI Punjab and Chennai Super Kings, Knight Riders find the chances of title defence fading in distance.
The Mumbai Indians, positioned a rung above the struggling Knights in the sixth position with as many points, too speak of expectations belied having suffered crushing defeats to Rajasthan Royals and the Delhi Daredevils in the previous two matches. While looking to upturn the sequence of setbacks, the Mumbai Indians will also prefer to dedicate a win to the great batsman – Sachin Tendulkar – who turns 40 on the day of the match. With Sachin, who has been the icon of the side as much he is with Indian cricket, regaining his touch with a 47-ball 54 against Daredevils in the previous match, the Mumbai Indians have all the reason to wish for an encore on the special day.
If failures unify the two opponents, the reasons behind them are diverse. The Knight Riders have suffered a vacuity of form in the batting department, where inconsistency has become an order. As it is evident in their last two loses, Mumbai Indians have drawn arrears in both the departments with the batsmen failing in one occasion while the bowlers faltering in the other. The Knight Riders coach Tervor Bayliss went on record blaming the “poor bating display” as a reason behind KKR’s recurrent failures.
Gautam Gambhir, the KKR captain, is the only consistent name in the batting order while the rest of his peers have failed to emulate his efforts. The host bowling is over-dependent on the success of the two spinners — West Indian Sunil Narine and Sri Lankan Sachithra Senanayake — leading to a gradual erosion of balance in the department.
Mumbai Indians too have lent heavily on the form of wicketkeeper batsman Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma, who have scored regularly.
Tendulkar’s return to form against Daredevils is a welcome relief for the visitors, who would look for a more composed showing against KKR in an effort to pick their second ‘away’ win of the tournament.