NAVI MUMBAI: Kolkata Knight Riders resemble a sinking ship ahead of a rather inconsequential IPL-15 match against bottom-placed Mumbai Indians who, even if already out of reckoning, will have their tails up here on Monday.
Panned for trying out too many combinations at the top, a part of their constant chopping and changing strategy this season which backfired on them pretty badly, KKR are coming off a 75-run drubbing at the hands of table-toppers Lucknow Super Giants.
While MI will enter the upcoming game on the back of a five-run win over second-placed Gujarat Titans.
MI under Rohit Sharma have already been eliminated from the race to the playoffs as they have just four points from 10 matches and even if they win all their remaining games, the five-time champions can reach only 12 points, far from what is needed to advance to the next stage.
Royal Challengers Bangalore have 12 points already and three other teams have 16 and 14 points.
Two-time winners KKR, under new captain Shreyas Iyer, came a cropper against Lucknow Super Giants on Saturday and the huge margin of defeat has left them with eight points from 11 games.
They have three matches left and the maximum they can reach is 14 points, which is again something that cannot guarantee even a fourth-place finish.
However, despite the inconsequential nature of the match, players from both the beleaguered sides can still gun for individual glory at the DY Patil Stadium.
With the season coming to a close for both the teams, the focus will also be on how to go about the task in the next edition, apart from looking to capping off their hugely disappointing campaigns on a positive note.
Heading into the game, the Mumbai Indians enjoy an advantage thanks to their massive 22-8 head-to-head record against the Knights Riders.
At the moment, the best part about MI is that both their openers — skipper Rohit and Ishan Kishan — clicked together against the Titans and they would certainly look to convert their scintillating 40s into bigger scores against the struggling Knight Riders.
MI captain Rohit is also approaching a milestone as he is 88 runs away from completing 5000 runs for the franchise in the IPL, and he can very well reach the mark on Monday.
While the likes of Rohit, Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav are adept at utilising the power play, KKR have struggled to score to force the pace in the first six overs, something their head coach Brendon McCullum singled out after the big loss to LSG.
“We struggled in the power play which has been a frustration for us throughout the season. We’ve been good throughout the middle phase and not too bad at the death,” McCullum said.
Even as the KKR stare at elimination, the team will still need to find a way to be more aggressive without losing wickets in the first six overs, keeping in mind the next season and an eagerness to finish this one on a good note.
But it is easier said than done against an MI unit that has just begun to found its bearing.
Teams (from): Kolkata Knight Riders: Aaron Finch, Abhijeet Tomar, Ajinkya Rahane, Baba Indrajith, Nitish Rana, Pratham Singh, Rinku Singh, Shreyas Iyer (c), Ashok Sharma, Pat Cummins, Rasikh Dar, Shivam Mavi, Tim Southee, Umesh Yadav, Varun Chakaravarthy, Aman Khan, Andre Russell, Anukul Roy, Chamika Karunaratne, Mohammed Nabi, Ramesh Kumar, Sunil Narine, Venkatesh Iyer, Sam Billings, Sheldon Jackson.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (c), Anmolpreet Singh, Rahul Buddhi, Ramandeep Singh, SuryakumarYadav, Tilak Verma, Tim David, Arjun Tendulkar, Basil Thampi, Hrithik Shokeen, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat, Jofra Archer, Mayank Markande, Murugan Ashwin, Riley Meredith, Tymal Mills, Kartikeya Singh, Daniel Sams, Dewald Brevis, Fabian Allen, Kieron Pollard, Sanjay Yadav, Aryan Juyal and Ishan Kishan.
Match starts at 7.30 PM.