Defending champion Mumbai Indians will face two-time winner Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday with a view to reclaiming first place. KKR, on the other hand, would like to forget their sloppy performance against Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) and put on a strong show against the record IPL champions. However, the momentum is certainly with Rohit Sharma and his team who have won four games in the trot, while KKR have lost two and won two each in their previous four games. That said, both teams have some big-hitters in their batting lineups who can dismantle even the best bowling bouts when they’re in full swing. In addition to the big names, KKR has also shown confidence in their youngsters, which were impressive.
Suryakumar Yadav: He has emerged as one of the most reliable hitters in the Mumbai Indians’ battle lineup, providing the team with the support it needs in the middle overs. Not only that, when Mumbai Indians have lost a few wickets early in their innings, Suryakumar Yadav has played the anchor role to perfection. He has scored 233 runs from seven innings at 38.83 and a success rate of 155.33. He will again be a difficult prospect for the KKR bowlers to throw at.
Trent Boult: The New Zealand fast bowler played his first season for the Mumbai Indians after being traded in from Delhi Capitals and has bowled beautifully despite the slow nature of the UAE pitches. He is the joint highest wicket-taker for his side alongside Jasprit Bumrah, with 11 layoffs from seven games. One aspect of his bowling he’d like to improve on is his 8.01 economy, which isn’t bad, but not great either.
Quinton de Kock: The South Africa skipper with limited overs was too late to join the party at this years IPL, but he more than made up for it by scoring two fifties in his last three innings. He has scored 191 runs so far in seven games, including 143 in the last three innings. De Kock’s form has eased the pressure on skipper Rohit Sharma’s shoulders and he would hope he continues the trend against KKR as well.
KOLKATA KNIGHT RIDERS
Shubman Gill: The young opener was in excellent form this season, scoring 254 points in seven innings against an average of 119.24. While he’s given KKR the solidity they need at the top of the order, at times he wasn’t able to hit the throttle towards the end of the innings. He would hope to improve his decent 119.24 success rate against Mumbai Indians and if he succeeds he will be a tough nut to track down for the opposition bowlers.
Eoin Morgan: The newly appointed KKR skipper is his squad’s second most successful batsman this season, but is 26th on the leading point buyers list. The responsibility of guiding KKR’s vulnerable middle order and guiding them to a competitive total will once again rest on his shoulders.
Andre Russell: The high-hitting all-rounder has had a quiet season with the bat so far, but as the tournament comes to the close of business, KKR management and fans hope to see the same Russell who played the ‘ Most Valuable Player ‘award. Despite failing with the bat, Russell has emerged as the lead wicket-taker for KKR this season, with six wickets in seven games.
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