Mumbai Indians – first
Kolkata Knight Riders – fourth
Mumbai Indians – 10 wins, four losses
Kolkata Knight Riders – eight wins, six losses
Mumbai Indians – lost to Rising Pune Supergiant by 20 runs
Kolkata Knight Riders – defeated Sunrisers Hyderabad by seven wickets (DL method)
AFTER finishing top of the 2017 Indian Premier League table, Mumbai Indians find themselves in danger of exiting the finals series in straight sets.
Ricky Ponting’s charges were well beaten by Rising Pune Supergiant in the first qualifier, even after dismissing in-form hitters Rahul Tripathi and Steve Smith within the first two overs of the match.
But standout knocks from Ajinkya Rahane, Manoj Tiwary and MS Dhoni steered Pune to what proved a match-winning total of 162.
With the sole exception of the recalled Parthiv Patel (52), Mumbai’s top order never got out of the gates.
Lendl Simmons soaked up 13 balls before running himself out on five, while Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard contributed a measly eight runs between them.
Patel battled manfully with the tail until succumbing at the end of the 15th over, all but killing the Indians’ hopes as they fell 20 runs short.
Perhaps most concerning of all for Ponting and his staff is the economy rate of Mitchell McClenaghan.
The Kiwi quick has taken wickets on a regular basis all season, but he has now conceded 507 runs – more than any other bowler in the competition.
It does not help that Lasith Malinga has had similar issues, although the Sri Lankan slinger was much improved with one for 14 from three overs against the Supergiant.
You can bet Kolkata’s top order will swing big at anything that does not quite hit the mark.
The Knight Riders can count themselves somewhat fortunate to have made it this far, having edged out Sunrisers Hyderabad in rather strange circumstances.
After the defending champions posted 128 in difficult conditions in Bangalore, heavy rain delayed the commencement of KKR’s innings by some three hours.
Normal IPL conditions would have seen the match abandoned and Kolkata eliminated, but on this occasion they waited out the storm and play was allowed to resume well after midnight.
Chasing 48 from six overs thanks to the Duckworth-Lewis method, the Bengali side survived three wickets from the first seven balls of the innings to wrap up the win at 1:26am.
While David Warner and the Sunrisers may feel aggrieved at the outcome, it was just reward for an excellent performance from the Kolkata bowlers.
Nathan Coulter-Nile shone on his return with three wickets for 20, while Umesh Yadav (2/21) and Trent Boult (1/30) also made good use of a tricky, two-paced surface.
Rohit Sharma top batsman odds
To score 50 – +225 at Bet365
Man of the match – +900
By his lofty standards, it has been an ordinary sort of season for Rohit.
With the exception of a mid-term hot streak that saw him notch three half-tonnes in five hits, the Mumbai skipper has not contributed anywhere near enough.
He has made far too many single-figure scores for a player of such rare class and natural ability.
The Indians lack a standout bat this season, so they may require a big captain’s knock to get them over the line.
Chris Lynn betting specials
Top Kolkata batsman – +250 at Bet365
Most match sixes – +350
Man of the match – +650
We can perhaps forgive Lynn for failing to fire after being asked to bat well past his bedtime the other night.
Otherwise, the Queenslander has been excellent whenever fit and available this season.
The guy hits sixes for fun – his only scoring shot against Sunrisers was a maximum – and has outscored Rohit and plenty of other notables this season despite playing half as many innings.
He does not miss out often in T20 cricket, so back him in for a big one.
Mumbai Indians vs. KKR match tip
While most online bookies have these two deadlocked at level odds, a handful have Mumbai as slight favourites.
Although the Indians finished top of the table, it is hard to see how they are the better team.
The defeat to Pune exposed both their lack of big run-makers and their reliance on seamers who are too expensive, too often.
Meanwhile, KKR’s bowling attack looks just about right with the aggressive Coulter-Nile back to complement Yadav’s pace and Boult’s tidy lines.
We know they are capable on the Bangalore pitch, and that alone should be enough to tip the balance for most punters.
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