Two-time Indian T20 League winners Kolkata will open their account on Wednesday at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi record champions against Mumbai, who will be hoping to get their fortunes back on track.
While it is an opening game for Kolkata, Rohit Sharma’s Mumbai are coming on the back of a disappointing five-wicket defeat against Chennai in the tournament opener.
Heading into the game, history favours the defending champions as they have won a whopping 19 of their previous 25 meetings against Kolkata, with the recent being a hefty nine-wicket triumph in 2019.
Results from the bygone years hardly matter though. What matters is how the players have been performing recently, and judging by the look of things, Mumbai are set to have a hard time.
Bumrah’s form a serious concern
Paceman Jasprit Bumrah has set soaring bowling standards since making his debut in 2016. A reliable bowler both in the powerplay overs and at the death, Bumrah’s form has seen a sudden dip since recovering from a stress fracture in February this year. His white-ball figures (including T20 and ODI) since returning have been quite rusty, to say the least. In the 14 games he has played after coming back, he has carried an average of 153.88 and a strike-rate of 178.25; a figure no bowler would want to be associated with.
A lapse in form was clearly visible in the opening game against Chennai where he conceded 43 runs and ended up being the most expensive bowler of the match. A further bifurcation shows that Mumbai have won just one of their nine games where the pacer has conceded 40 or more runs. Against Kolkata, in particular, Mumbai do have a thing or two to worry about as Bumrah averages 33.22 against them. He also carries an economy of 8.30 against his Wednesday’s opponent, which, in fact, is his highest against any team in the current Indian T20 League.
Can Cummins improve Kolkata’s bowling woes?
Kolkata decided to splash ₹15.5 crore on Pat Cummins during the auction, and the while the fee totally sounds atrocious, there’s a reason why the franchise went big for the Australian. In the 2019 edition of the tournament, Kolkata’s pace contingent delivered the worst return by far. Their fast bowlers picked a mere 27 wickets during the tournament, which was the least by any team, and, in fact, seven less than the next placed Bangalore.
Furthermore, their average and strike-rate of 46.51 and 29.89 respectively were the worst amongst the other teams. Their bowlers bowled a mere total of 281 dot balls, which, as you expected, was least by any side last season. And so, spending fortune on Cummins now makes sense. The Australian not only brings a wealth of experience, but he also has a point to prove after a rather underwhelming series against England where he picked a solitary wicket in two matches at an economy of 8.
Players to watch:
Kolkata - Andre Russell
All-rounder Andre Russell has been in fantastic form in the Indian T20 League, especially since 2018. And coming on the back of a successful Caribbean Premier League where he scored 222 runs at 44.40, which included 19 fours and 16 sixes, it is safe to say that keeping him in check will do half of Mumbai’s work on Wednesday. The all-rounder has delivered contrary performances with the ball and the bat in the Indian T20 League since 2018. Stats show that the West Indian is more effective in the opening 10 overs with the ball, but with the bat, his powers are unleashed in the final 10.
|Andre Russell's bowling in Indian T20 League since 2018|
|0-10 Overs||Metrics||11-20 Overs|
His bowling strike-rate of 16.21 in the first 10 overs is, in fact, the second-best among the bowlers with 10+ overs bowled in Indian T20 League since 2018. As far as his batting his concerned, a strike rate of 203.47 in the final 10 over is once again the second-best among the batters who have batted for 60+ balls since 2018.
Mumbai - Rohit Sharma
After an underwhelming performance in the opening game, Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma will be hoping to get back to his usual best against Kolkata, against whom he has a relatively better record. The Mumbai opener has scored 824 runs against Kolkata at an average of 45.77, his best return against any other Indian T20 League team. As things stand, he is just five runs short of overtaking David Warner to become the highest run-scorer against Kolkata in the Indian T20 League.
There are further milestones to reach as well; like he needs six sixes to complete 200 sixes in the Indian T20 League. He is 90 runs away from becoming only the 3rd player in Indian T20 League to score 5000 runs. Furthermore, he is yet to be dismissed by either Kuldeep Yadav and Andre Russell. But it is against Sunil Narine that he has struggled the most. The West Indies all-rounder has dismissed the Mumbai captain a whopping six times while conceding 122 runs in 110 balls across 16 innings.
Stats to watch out for:
1: Kolkata have won just one of their last 10 encounters against Mumbai in Indian T20 League.
2: With 83 catches currently, Rohit Sharma is two away from surpassing AB de Villiers and become the outfielder with second-most catches in Indian T20 League after Suresh Raina (102).
3: Pat Cummins is three wickets away from completing 100 wickets in T20s.
7: Kolkata have won all their last seven opening matches of the Indian T20 League, starting from 2013.
76: Mumbai have won 76 percent of their games against Kolkata in the Indian T20 League; the highest by any team against an opponent in the tournament.
Kolkata made several changes in the squad during the auction, and it will be interesting to see how they approach the game on Wednesday. With England captain Eoin Morgan in the side, Kolkata are well and truly capable of wreaking havoc, and judging by Mumbai’s bowling struggle, expect the two-time Indian T20 League champions edge the title defenders on Wednesday in Abu Dhabi.
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Feature image courtesy: AFP / Punit Paranjpe