Kolkata: Pulled back by three consecutive losses, a struggling Mumbai Indians will be up against an in-form Kolkata Knight Riders in a must-win match for them in the Indian Premier League here on Sunday. (Agencies)
With a healthy net run-rate, the Knight Riders are all but assured of a play-off berth. But Mumbai Indians have to ensure that theirs remains better than Kings XI Punjab.
All the arithmetical probabilities put aside, the clinical Knight Riders are eyeing the second spot on the ladder that will give them a brighter chance to book their final berth.
"By finishing in the top-two, you have a double chance of making it to the final," the Knight Riders batting mainstay Jacques Kallis said.
"The new system rewards the teams with the best record over the course of the league and makes it harder for those sneaking in third and fourth by making them play a straight knockout and then another match against the loser of the first qualifier."
In the new IPL format, the loser of the top two teams in the play-off will get a second chance as they are drawn against the winner of the third and fourth teams before advancing to the final.
The Knight Riders under Gautam Gambhir have been the team of the IPL fourth season as they have come solid in both batting and bowling.
In the last match, however, Kallis picked up an injury while bowling forcing Gambhir to promote himself to the opening slot.
The left-hander hit seven fours in his 54-run knock off 46 balls as Kolkata overhauled a modest 119-run target with 20 balls to spare at the D Y Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
Down the order, Manoj Tiwary has been consistent averaging 64 from 13 matches, playing the role of a finisher.
The bowling is equally strong as the slow bowlers -- Iqbal Abdulla (15 wickets from 13 matches), Shakib-al-Hasan (9/5) and Yusuf Pathan (13/13) -- have been giving match-winning performances.
Bangladesh skipper Shakib was at his best in the last match with superb figures of 4-0-16-2 and it remains surprising why the left-arm spinner has only played five matches so far.
The spinners will be relishing the prospect of bowling on the slow Eden strip on Sunday.
But the wounded Mumbai Indians would not be in a mood to relent in what is a must-win match for them.
Kolkata: Pulled back by three consecutive losses, a struggling Mumbai Indians will be up against an in-form Kolkata Knight Riders in a must-win match for them in the Indian Premier League here on Sunday.