Knight Riders in do or die game

CONFIDENT: KKR's Shubhamn Gill will look to offer a strong start with Chris Lynn in their crucial game against Mumbai Indians. AFP

Their play-offs chances hung, Kolkata Knight Riders will keep no stone unturned as they take on Mumbai Indians with a prayer on their lips in a must-win Indian Premier League game on Sunday.

KKR defeated Kings XI Punjab to keep their play-offs hopes alive till the last league game but if Sunrisers Hyderabad manage to sneak past RCB on Saturday, it might take a Herculean effort in terms of improving the net run-rate.

Placed fourth, SRH have a net run-rate of +0.653, which is better than the fifth-placed KKR's +0.173. In case, SRH lose to RCB, it will be like a quarterfinal for KKR as a win will do the job.

However, MI would like to carry on the winning momentum as 18 points and a better net run-rate than both first placed Chennai Super Kings and the third-placed Delhi Capitals will give them two shots at qualifying for the final.

With Chris Lynn and Shubhman Gill coming good and the marauding Andre Russell to follow at No 4, skipper Dinesh Karthik would fancy his chances at the batting-friendly Wankhede.

Gill's confidence would have boosted after his back-to-back half-centuries against Mumbai Indians (at home) and Kings Xi Punjab.

His unbeaten 65 off 49 balls steered KKR to a seven-wicket victory against KXIP in Mohali on Friday.

If the likes of seasoned Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah, Krunal Pandya and leggie Rahul Chahar have to be taken to task, then KKR batsman will have to put up a special show.

Russell, who has been consistently delivering for his team, will have to showcase his prowess and mettle once again.

For KKR, their bowling has been the biggest concern as their bowlers have been ripped apart by their opponents both in the Powerplay as well as at the death.

Pacers Harry Gurney, Sandeep Warrier, Narine and Piyush Chawla will have to bowl a tight line and length to restrict the famed Mumbai batters.

With the Wankhede track aiding slow bowlers, KKR may also be tempted to play chinaman Kuldeep Yadav, who has been dumped because of poor form.

Meanwhile, Mumbai Indians, who have already qualified for the playoffs will eye revenge after KKR after they had suffered a 34-run defeat in Kolkata in a high-scoring thriller despite Hardik Pandya's breath-taking 91 off 34 balls.

For the hosts, apart from Hardik (380 runs from 13 matches), South African Quinton De Kock (462 from 13) has been among the runs. But others including Rohit Sharma (331 runs from 12), Suryakumar Yadav (292 runs from 13), Krunal Pandya ( 176 runs from 13) and Kieron Pollard (240 runs from 13) need to shoulder responsibility.

However, an area of concern for head-coach Mahela Jayawardene would be the frequent middle-order collapse and he would like to strengthen before the knockouts.

 

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