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IPL: Tail up, Eoin’s Knights to push for playoffs

Mumbai Indians have four wins in eight matches and KKR have three from eight games
Eoin Morgan
Eoin Morgan
Twitter / @KKRiders

Our Special Correspondent   |   Calcutta   |   Published 23.09.21, 04:16 AM

Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians have started the second leg of their IPL campaign in contrasting style. While the defending champions came a cropper against Chennai Super Kings, Eoin Morgan’s side inflicted a crushing defeat on Royal Challengers Bangalore.

Mumbai Indians have four wins in eight matches and KKR have three from eight games. If Knight Riders manage to beat Rohit Sharma’s men on Thursday, they could break into the top four of the league table for the first time this season.

Morgan has already indicated that they are aspiring to play an aggressive brand of cricket in order to make their way into the playoffs. It was visible in the way openers Shubman Gill and debutant Venkatesh Iyer guided the innings from the outset against RCB.

Even Virat Kohli had words of encouragement for the left-handed opener who controlled the innings right through. The decision to play Andre Russell at No.3 could also prove to be a masterstroke.

The West Indies all-rounder’s batting position has remained a bone of contention since last season.

The Knight Riders team management has often wasted his explosive instincts by slotting him down the order. Morgan maintained after the match that Russell’s batting position is “open to interpretation”.

Russell could prove to be the key both with bat and ball on Thursday. How he manages to negate the threat of Kieron Pollard, especially in the death overs, could go a long way in deciding the course of the match.

Mumbai Indians have dominated the Knight Riders over the last few seasons, winning 12 of their last 13 meetings. A lot will depend on whether their key men, captain Rohit Sharma and all-rounder Hardik Pandya, play on Thursday after missing out against CSK because of niggles.

Trent Boult was non-committal at the media conference. “They are both recovering very well. In terms of their selection for the next game, I'm not too sure what’s going on there. But day by day, they are improving,” Boult said.

A lot will also depend on how Varun Chakravarthy restricts the Mumbai Indians batsmen.

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