IPL 2021: Kolkata Knight Riders have to defy history in order to seek a result against Mumbai Indians
Kolkata Knight Riders have a woeful record against Mumbai Indians and are the underdogs for tonight's game
As Kolkata Knight Riders prepare to take on Mumbai Indians tonight, they will be reminded of the ominous mismatch when it comes to the side in the Indian Premier League. In the last six years, the Purple and Gold franchise has won just one match against Mumbai Indians – it required their second-highest total in IPL history in front of passionate supporters at the Eden Gardens in 2019 to do that.
This just goes to show that getting the better of the record IPL champions hasn't come easy for KKR. It has often required Herculean efforts and yet, they've managed short on most occasions. In the last six years, Mumbai Indians have beaten KKR 11 times. So, is the writing on the wall dry, and has the die been already cast for tonight? What can KKR do to avoid humiliation?
Batting has held KKR back against MI
Kolkata Knight Riders have a woeful record when it comes to their batters facing the likes of Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult. In fact, they have struggled against the quicks and both the top order as well as the middle order fail to inspire confidence.
Although Nitish Rana and Shubman Gill have scored the most runs for KKR in this fixture (164 and 153 respectively) over the last four years, their batting hasn't caused enough impact. While Rana has an average and strike rate of 27.33 and 126.15 respectively, Shubman Gill has recorded an average of 25.5 and a strike rate of 123.39.
Even the great Andre Russell who scored that beastly knock of 80 not out in 40 deliveries in the 34-run victory over Mumbai Indians in 2019 has faltered in recent times. He has amassed 123 runs in seven innings at an average of 20.5 and a strike rate of 136.67.
In fact, the only batter who has smashed desperate runs at an average above 30 and at a strike rate above 130 who currently plays for the franchise is…surprise surprise…Pat Cummins. However, Cummins hasn't made himself available for the UAE leg of the IPL.
Inspiration needs to come from elsewhere
Despite chasing a measly total in their first match against Royal Challengers Bangalore, KKR's batting offered a glimpse of hope a sign of positive change. Shubman Gill, usually known for anchoring the innings a bit too much even during the powerplay and IPL debutant Venkatesh Iyer launched an assault on the RCB bowlers right from the word go and chalked up 56 runs inside the first six overs – their highest unbeaten Powerplay score since 2019.
Venkatesh Iyer showed plenty of promise and in the way he greeted pacers like Mohammed Siraj and Kyle Jamieson. He's also a more than handy player of spin and playing alongside him also brought out the best in Shubman Gill whose temperament was more suited to a T20 contest in the first match. Iyer's knock signifies the brand of aggressive cricket that KKR wants to play said Captain Morgan after the game. About time. Gill also needs to stick to that same strategy and make the most of the batting Powerplay because otherwise, KKR struggle with immense pressure on the middle order.
Can the opening duo of Shubman Gill and Venkatesh Iyer help Kolkata Knight Riders defy history against Mumbai Indians tonight? Only time will tell.
Stats courtesy - Stat Doctor by CricXtasy