Struggling Mumbai, in-form Kolkata eye top-two finish

Struggling Mumbai, in-form Kolkata eye top-two finish

Both teams are assured of a berth in the play-offs after Kings XI Punjab’s loss to Deccan Chargers on Saturday, but with qualification places becoming crucial, both will look to finish their league campaign on a high.

Both teams will eye at least the second spot, if not the first position, as it will give them a brighter chance to book their final berth.

“By finishing in the top-two, you have a double chance of making it to the final,” the Knight Riders’ batting mainstay Jacques Kallis said.

“The new system rewards the teams with the best record over the course of the league and makes it harder for those sneaking in third and fourth by making them play a straight knockout and then another match against the loser of the first qualifier.”

The Knight Riders, under Gautam Gambhir, have been a strong team in IPL IV as they wear a solid look in both batting and bowling.

In the last match, however, Kallis picked up an injury while bowling, forcing Gambhir to promote himself to the opening slot.

The left-hander hit seven fours in his 54-run knock off 46 balls as Kolkata overhauled a modest 119-run target with 20 balls to spare at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai against the Pune Warriors.

Down the order, Manoj Tiwary has been consistent averaging 64 from 13 matches, playing the role of a finisher.

The bowling is equally strong as the slow bowlers — Iqbal Abdulla (15 wickets from 13 matches), Shakib-al-Hasan (9 from 5) and Yusuf Pathan (13 from 13) — have been giving match-winning performances.

Bangladesh skipper Shakib was at his best in the last match with superb figures of 4-0-16-2 and it remains surprising why the left-arm spinner has only played five matches so far.

The spinners will be relishing the prospect of bowling on the slow Eden strip on Sunday.
But the wounded Mumbai Indians would not be in a mood to relent. “There will be some changes, because it’s a different surface which requires different planning,” said skipper Sachin Tendulkar said.

It’s really an unbelievable situation for Mumbai Indians, who were the most consistent team at one stage with 16 points after 10 matches.