For all the focus on teams winning the toss and opting to bowl, with the dew later on proving to be an advantage for teams chasing, Pune has been an outlier. In the two matches played at the MCA Stadium so far, both games have been won by teams defending with dew hardly appearing in the equation.
Kolkata Knight Riders are unbeaten at the venue, winning all six games they have played here. But it’s more to do with who they face off on Wednesday. Their opponents, Mumbai Indians, have held the upper hand by a significant margin: winning 22 out of their past 29 encounters.
As things stand so far, the Knight Riders come into Wednesday’s fixture having won two of the three games whereas Mumbai are still searching for their first win two games into the season. Even then, Knight Riders’ head coach Brendon McCullum is not willing to discount them.
“Mumbai are Mumbai,” he told a press conference on Sunday. “They know what they are doing. We are very respectful of the Mumbai Indians management, the coaching staff and the leadership so we know that even with couple of losses early in this tournament, they would still remain poised under pressure. We are expecting them to play well.”
🗣"Pat’s a fine human being, a wonderful cricketer and a strong leader."— KolkataKnightRiders (@KKRiders) April 3, 2022
Head coach @Bazmccullum speaks about @patcummins30’s availability against Mumbai Indians ⤵️#KKRHaiTaiyaar #IPL2022https://t.co/8MMOajpWd2
With Pat Cummins back from national duty and out of quarantine, he is available for selection and as coach McCullum suggested, will not only add to a healthy selection headache but also add a layer of leadership around the squad. The pace attack, which includes Tim Southee, Andre Russell and Shivam Mavi, has bowled with an average of 17.06 and struck at 12.63.
Knight Riders’ strength has been their bowling. Umesh Yadav currently holds the Purple Cap and will once again be key in the powerplay, a phase he has excelled in. The spin twins, Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine have bowled at a combined economy of just five runs an over and kept run flow in check, building pressure in the middle overs. Narine has dismissed Rohit Sharma seven times in 18 innings.
For Mumbai Indians, Ishan Kishan fired at the top with an unbeaten 81 against Delhi Capitals in the second match of the season and followed it up with a 54 against Rajasthan Royals on Saturday. Tilak Varma, too, scored a quickfire 64 but their bowlers have conceded 193 and 179 in the two games so far. They will look to Jasprit Bumrah to repeat his new-ball spell of 3-17 from Saturday.
KKR: Shreyas Iyer (c), Ajinkya Rahane, Rinku Singh, Aaron Finch, Abhijeet Tomar, Ramesh Kumar, Pratham Singh, Sam Billings, Sheldon Jackson, Baba Indrajith, Pat Cummins, Mohammad Nabi, Nitish Rana, Shivam Mavi, Anukul Roy, Chamika Karunaratne, Aman Khan, Andre Russell, Venkatesh Iyer, Umesh Yadav, Rasikh Salam, Tim Southee, Ashok Sharma, Sunil Narine, Varun Chakravarthy
Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Suryakumar Yadav, Kieron Pollard, Ishan Kishan, Dewald Brevis, Basil Thampi, M Ashwin, Jaydev Unadkat, Mayank Markande, N Tilak Varma, Sanjay Yadav, Jofra Archer, Daniel Sams, Tymal Mills, Tim David, Riley Meredith, Mohammad Arshad Khan, Anmolpreet Singh, Ramandeep Singh, Rahul Buddhi, Hrithik Shokeen, Arjun Tendulkar, Fabian Allen, Aryan Juyal