Malinga, Bhajji in mix as under-pressure MI take on in-form KKR
Under pressure post Steve Smith's blitzkrieg, Mumbai Indians will be fretting over their team combination as they take on a marauding Kolkata Knight Riders in an Indian Premier League encounter, here on Sunday.
Both teams had contrasting results in their opening games with Mumbai Indians losing to Rising Pune Supergiant by seven wickets while KKR thrashing Gujarat Lions by 10 wickets.
The MI team management may be forced to make a couple of changes to bolster the bowling attack which suffered because of Kieron Pollard forced to bowl the final over where Steve Smith hit the big West Indian for two sixes.
In these circumstances, Lasith Malinga, fresh from a T20 hat-trick may replace Tim Southee in the bowling attack and the seasoned Harbhajan Singh after a baffling exclusion may come in place of Krunal Pandya, who was ordinary to say the least.
Mumbai Indians are notorious for their poor starts and will be keen to pull up their socks against a formidable KKR which tamed the Lions at their den.
Rohit Sharma may be worried about KKR's swashbuckling opener Chris Lynn who smashed his way to an unbeaten 93 off only 41 balls. Not to forget skipper Gautam Gambhir's 76 in an unbroken 184 run opening stand.
Mumbai will be hoping that an extra day's rest they got would stand them in good stead against KKR, who are now playing two away games in three days.
Quite a few Mumbai batsmen got starts against Pune but failed to carry on. Their top order, including captain Rohit Sharma, floundered againt South African leggie Imran Tahir, failing to read his googlies.
KKR too have handy wrist spinners in experienced Piyush Chawla and chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav to call upon and exploit any perceived weakness in the MI's top order.
The availability of IPL's all-time leading wicket-taker Malinga (143 wickets) will certainly sort MI's problem at the death overs.
Harbhajan another member of the 100 plus club (119 wickets from 125 matches) also knows how to control proceedings during the middle overs.
Pandya's is known for his batting exploits but purely on bowling skills, one of India's finest spinner is still miles ahead. KKR too will have Bangladesh skipper and all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan in their ranks giving them another quality option.The Shah Rukh Khan co-owned side have a formidable batting line-up which should find the Wankhede track, rated the best in successive
years, an ideal one to express themselves.