If the Rohit Sharma-led side manage to win this match, they will almost confirm their place in the playoffs.
Mumbai have an outstanding record against Kolkata. They have an 18-5 head-to-head record against Kolkata and are on an eight-match winning streak against this side. The last time Kolkata got the better of Mumbai was in 2014.
Mumbai have won seven out of their 11 games and recently beat Chennai Super Kings in their own backyard. The franchise will be delighted with the way Rohit and Krunal Pandya performed last season. While the skipper scored a match-defining 48-ball 67 on a spin-friendly surface at Chepauk, Krunal was phenomenal with his left-arm offspin, picking up 2 for 7 in three overs.
The likes of Quinton de Kock, Rohit, Evin Lewis, Krunal, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard and Suryakumar Yadav will love batting in Kolkata where the pitch offers good bounce and pace. Meanwhile, same could be said about their in-form pacers Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah. While spinners have kept things tight in the middle overs, the two pacemen have constantly picked up wickets.
At the moment nothing is going in favour of Kolkata, something that reminds of their disastrous show in 2009 when the team had lost nine in a row, in a 10-match winless run.
Dinesh Karthik's men have now lost six consecutive games and if they don't change their fate on Sunday, it would confirm their early departure. Even though Karthik returned to form against Rajasthan Royals by smashing a stroke-filled 97*, Kolkata could still not get the job done. Apart from Russell and Karthik, Kolkata batsmen have struggled to get going of late.
However, their biggest problem is bowling. Someone like Prasidh Krishna is talented but one can't expect a 23-year-old to lead the pace attack. Kolkata's strength lies in their spin department and despite Kuldeep Yadav being out of form, they need to play the left-arm wristspinner so that he can gain some confidence back. And once he does that, we all know what he is capable of.
PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR
Andre Russell: The big-hitting all-rounder from Jamaica has already done enough for the franchise but if Kolkata want to keep themselves alive in the tournament, Russell will have to be at his very best in the last three group-stage games. The team management will also have to make sure they get 100 percent out of Russell who hasn't really been used properly in few games. Mumbai are going to test him with Rahul Chahar and even someone like Bumrah or Malinga can be a threat to him.
Rohit Sharma: Having announced his return to form at the Chepauk, Rohit will like to build on that performance and continue his love affair with Kolkata. The Mumbai batsman has a superb record in Kolkata in all formats of the game. Kolkata doesn't have a great pace attack but Rohit will have to be slightly careful against Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep.
Kolkata: The home team will look to make some changes in their playing XI. Considering the nature of the surface, it will make sense to bring in either of Lockie Ferguson, Harry Gurney or Matthew Kelly. The franchise will also try to include Kuldeep in the team.
Mumbai: They might bring in someone like Barinder Sran, Beuran Hendricks or Jason Behrendorff in place of Anukul Roy.
Kolkata: Dinesh Karthik (capt & wk), Piyush Chawla, Sunil Narine, Andre Russell, Chris Lynn, Carlos Brathwaite/Robin Uthappa, Nitish Rana, Prasidh Krishna, Rinku Singh, Shubman Gill, Lockie Ferguson/Harry Gurney/Matthew Kelly.
Mumbai: Quinton de Kock (wk), Evin Lewis/Ishan Kishan, Rohit Sharma (capt), Suryakumar Yadav, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Barinder Sran/Beuran Hendricks/Jason Behrendorff, Rahul Chahar, Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah.
First Published: April 27, 2019, 8:03 PM IST