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IPL 10, Qualifier 2: Kolkata vs Mumbai

Wisden India logo Wisden India 6 days ago Karthik Lakshmanan

The Bangalore weather nearly took revenge on Kolkata Knight Riders for that 49 all out thrashing of Royal Challengers Bangalore, but the subair drainage system at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium, in Gautam Gambhir's own words, flushed them out of troubled waters. It means they will progress to face another knockout clash against Mumbai Indians in Qualifier 2 of IPL 2017, on Friday (May 19).

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But in case you think Kolkata got lucky, think again. While debates on the suitability of the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method to Twenty20 cricket are probably fair, there's no questioning that Kolkata earned every bit of their victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad in the Eliminator. Now, they not only stay alive in the tournament, but perhaps also have a slight edge over Mumbai, with momentum and experience of conditions in Bangalore by their side.

For that, Kolkata have their bowlers to thank. Gambhir's men are used to the quicker surface at the Eden Garden but adapted remarkably well to the slow and dry Chinnaswamy pitch, restricting Hyderabad's in-form batting line-up to just 128 for 7 in 20 overs. And although it might appear unfair to some, the revised target of 48 in six overs was deserved reward for the bowling efforts.

Interestingly, it was Kolkata's pacers who led the way on a spinner-friendly pitch. Nathan Coulter-Nile, who missed a few games due to a severe bout of concussion, bowled in his comeback game as if he had never been away, his 3 for 20 bagging him his third man of the match award in seven matches. Umesh Yadav wasn't too far behind, while Sunil Narine and Piyush Chawla played their roles well.

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Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma's wife Ritika Sajdeh looks on  during the 2017 Indian Premier League final between Mumbai Indians and Rising Pune Supergiant at the Rajiv Gandhi International Cricket Stadium in Hyderabad on May 21, 2017. Most memorable moments of IPL 10 - Presented by OPPO

Although a six-over dash isn't much to read from, there could be some concerns in Kolkata's batting unit. Knockout games are never a good time for experiments, but Kolkata had a new opening pair in Robin Uthappa and Chris Lynn. Whether that was a one-off strategy or they revert to Narine at the top remains to be seen.Kolkata had a panic attack when they lost three wickets with just 12 on the board, before Gambhir ensured they crossed the line easily. The middle order also looks a bit wobbly, especially in the absence of Manish Pandey who missed the Eliminator with an injury.

Interestingly, Mumbai too share similar concerns with their batting line-up, especially on slow tracks. On a Wankhede strip that wasn't too different from Chinnaswamy's, Mumbai were rolled over by Washington Sundar and Rising Pune Supergiant in Qualifier 1.

Mumbai were chasing a very gettable 163, but no batsman barring Parthiv Patel resisted. The core of Mumbai's batting - Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard - succumbed to the 17-year-old offspinner, sending danger signals ahead of a clash in similar conditions.

The most important thing Rohit & co should do is to reset their targets as a batting unit. Like Bangalore, they too are a side filled with power-hitters but Virat Kohli's team found out the hard way that they had to take a different approach on this Chinnaswamy pitch. Mumbai can learn a lesson or two from Bangalore, and more importantly, do so quickly.

Mumbai share similarities with Kolkata in having a potent bowling attack too, although it was stunned by Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the previous game.

The comparable strengths and weaknesses aptly make it a battle of equals, but there are a couple of areas where Mumbai have an advantage. One of them is the overall head-to-heads; the other is the fact that if there is no possibility of any play at all – including the one-off Super Over showdown – then Mumbai will advance to the final by virtue of having finished higher on the league table.

Head-to-head record:

Played 20: Mumbai 15, Kolkata 5.

Head-to-head at Chinnaswamy Stadium

The teams have not met at this venue before.

Also Watch: Eliminator: Hyderabad knocked out

(Video provided by Wisden)

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