After bringing down Chennai Super Kings on a bowler-friendly wicket at the Wankhede stadium, Mumbai Indians will be looking at laying the trap for Kolkata Knight Riders on Tuesday.
Rohit Sharma had expressed a desire about creating a difficult environment for visiting teams. The captain’s wish is coming true with help from teammates ready to work harder and reduce the load on their leader’s shoulders. KKR will step into a cauldron of noise generated by MI fans; on the pitch an intense contest awaits the Indian Premier League champion.
KKR captain Gautam Gambhir relishes nail-biting encounters and the Wankhede is a favoured venue, where he had set India on the road to World Cup victory. The team is crumbling under the weight of expectations and with just four wins in 11 IPL VI appearances, there is a lot more to be done. MI, aiming for a top-two finish ahead of the play-offs, displayed intent of a different type ever since Rohit took over captaincy.
There is a sense of urgency in the squad, each player making an effort to make a contribution. The leader is showing the way, 414 runs and four fifties are runs accumulated in style.
Team mentor Anil Kumble was as competitive in his playing days, MI seniors Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar have similar passion for being on winning teams. Ponting dropped himself due to shortage of runs from his blade and the message about perform-or-step aside appears to have been driven home.
Pulling their weight
The home team’s rise to third place in the points table has to do with foreigners pulling their weight, at least three out of four rising to the occasion. Left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson, slinger Lasith Malinga, all-rounder Kieren Pollard and strokeplayer Dwayne Smith delivered on time.
Pollard attracted attention for four dropped catches in the home victory over CSK, pouched two later (M.S. Dhoni and Suresh Raina) to partly make amends. The West Indian is usually a cool player and capable of incredible catching feats on the fence, this was a case of over-anxiety in a close-catching position.
The problems are mounting for KKR; with the batting unit letting the side down after the bowlers did an efficient job. IPL V sensation Sunil Narine continues to outwit strokemakers and with 16 wickets to his tally remains a match-winner, despite the mystery element about his bowling dissipating.
Facing Mumbai Indians amidst a sea of blue at the Wankhede stadium has unnerved others; including CSK. KKR may be able to turn the corner if other heavyweights in the squad make an impact, in keeping with its standing as members of a champion squad.