Mumbai Indians are facing the Kolkata Knight Riders again on Friday, just a couple of matches after the first leg. Which means Mumbai will be picking up that momentum they lost against Punjab, inexplicably failing to chase down 120 with such a talented lineup. Here are Friday's match previews:
Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders - Mumbai's opening partners, of a combined age of 75, rolled back the years to hammer KKR into submission a few days ago, and a repeat performance wouldn't hurt anybody. Well, except Kolkata. But they don't count. Still, I get the feeling it's too much to ask for - if such a performance were to be re-executed so simply, it wouldn't be as special. So even if one opener manages a 15-ball 30 (hint: Sanath) and the other simply plays anchor (hint: Sachin) and the rest (hint: the rest) were to chip in with quick 20's and 30's, a good total beckons again. The bowling could hardly do better, with Malinga, Zaheer, Bravo and Harbhajan all in top form. I'm not sure if the Windies have already left the IPL to join the national side for the series against England, but if Bravo's missing, so is Gayle. That's half of KKR's batting lineup gone, whereas Mumbai can simply replace Bravo with one of two amazing allrounders from the bench - Essex's smasher Graham Napier or Ryan McLaren. KKR are doing OK, they just need to sort out their batting, bowling and fielding. In case you haven't been following me, Mumbai for the win.
Watch out for: Bravo if he plays, or else the player that replaces him.
Bangalore Royal Challengers v Kings XI Punjab - Punjab should nail this. Even though BRC won their last game, it was against lowly KKR, and was even a last-ball thriller. They may have a bit of confidence, but not as much as Punjab, who've stitched together three wins in a row, successfully defending low scores against Rajasthan and Mumbai. Pieterson is leaving as well to play the Windies, but he hasn't done much anyway in the batting department. There will be a new captain, which could be Kallis, Dravid or even Kumble. Punjab for the win.
Watch out for: Roloef van der Merwe. Showed his skills against KKR, when he opened the bowling with Pieterson. Will be a key part of a spin-heavy bowling attack of him, Kumble and Appanna.