Mumbai Indians (MI) will lock horns with Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in match no. 51 of the Pepsi Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Thursday.
As the tournament is nearing its business end, the remaining six games will decide the fate of the top six teams who are in a race to secure a berth in the Playoff stages.
KKR will have to win just one game out of their remaining two games and that would ensure them a place in the Playoffs. On the other hand, MI face a must-win situation as they will have to win both their matches to stay in the hunt. If they lose to KKR on Thursday, they would want Royal Challengers Bangalore to win their remaining games and Rajasthan Royals to lose their last fixture against KKR. In that case, they will have to defeat Sunrisers Hyderabad in the last fixture of the league stages.
Let's have a look at some of the key battles from this all-important fixture:
Lendl Simmons Vs Umesh Yadav: Simmons has been one of the best batsmen for MI this season and have given them just the kind of start that a team expects at the top of the order. He has already notched up 345 runs in nine games at an average of 43.12. He will be up against Umesh Yadav, who has bowled well with the new ball upfront. He bowls with a fiery pace and would look to trouble the former with his slow bouncers.
Robin Uthappa Vs Lasith Malinga: Uthappa has been instrumental in giving KKR great starts to their innings so far in this tournament. He times the ball sweetly and if bowled at his pads, sends the ball out of the boundary for sure as he is brilliant off his pads. Malinga has to be on a song in order to curb the run rate during the powerplay as well as at the death. He would want to get Uthappa out as early as possible.
Andre Russell Vs Harbhajan Singh: Russell has arguably been the best all-rounder in the KKR squad. He has won them games in this edition of the IPL single-handedly, both with the bat and with the ball. Harbhajan would want to bring his experience into play and bowl well to get this big West Indian out because Russell can cause severe damage.
Rohit Sharma Vs Brad Hogg: Sharma has lead the Mumbai Indians squad from the front and has played an important role in the resurrection of their IPl 2015 campaign. His record against KKR speaks well of him and he would look to repeat the same on Thursday. He is also a very good player of spin bowling and loves to get to the pitch of the ball and hit them hard. But it won't be easy against Hogg, as he has been brilliant so far in IPL 2015. His googlies are the most difficult ones to pick as he bowls slow through the air. Hogg can also surprise Rohit with a flipper if he attempts to step out and hit him out of the park.