KKR eye top-two spot against beleaguered MI

Shreyas Iyer and Varun Chakaravarthy
Shreyas Iyer and Varun Chakaravarthy (PC: Shreyas Iyer/X)

Whenever the IPL’s league phase approaches its climax, it is a great time for the statisticians. It is about charting out various permutations and combinations, alongside some number-crunching to gauge the chances of each and every side in relation to qualifying for the playoffs. However, the next game, scheduled to be played between Mumbai Indians (MI) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), doesn’t have a great deal of relevance attached to it. MI have already been eliminated, while KKR are all but assured of a place in the last four.

So, what has gone wrong for MI, one of the most successful franchises in the history of IPL? Or, perhaps, the question should be framed thus: has anything gone right for MI this season? Hardik Pandya’s captaincy and his poor form with the bat have been the centrepiece of MI’s failures. History also tells us that when a side is struggling to stitch wins, it leads to rifts or divisions in the set-up. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there has been speculation of internal strife within the franchise. 

Basically, barring Jasprit Bumrah’s ever-consistent bowling efforts, there hasn’t been much to cheer about. Gerald Coetzee has been among the wickets. However, he has also been expensive. The one encouraging sign is that Pandya seems to be in good rhythm with the ball and now has 11 wickets to his name. Among the batters, no one has yet crossed the 400-run mark. Tilak Varma leads the batting charts with 384 runs, but his strike-rate of 147.13 is on the lower side in a seaon that has seen to many run feasts.

KKR, their opponents, are on secure footing as they eye a top-two finish in the league phase. Sunil Narine has been the go-to man for the side, with both the bat and ball in hand. At the top of the order, Narine has scored 461 runs at an astounding strike-rate of 183.67. Moreover, he has been economical with the ball, alongside taking 14 scalps. Phil Salt, his opening partner, too has played his part, having accumulated 429 runs at a strike-rate of 183.33.

Andre Russell, Narine’s former West Indian teammate, has made an impact with the bat and ball as well. Varun Chakravarthy and Harshit Rana’s wicket-taking nous only add to KKR’s heavy artillery. Even Mitchell Starc, their biggest signing, has found some form over his last couple of games. 

Simply put, KKR go into the game against MI at Eden Gardens as favourites. But on a given day, their beleaguered opponent would still believe they have a chance of upsetting the applecart and registering a consolation win.