Kolkata Knight Riders v Mumbai Indians: Karthik to take control

Dinesh Karthik
Dinesh Karthik is Kolkata's top runscorer despite batting down at five.
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Wednesday sees a repeat of Sunday's fixture between two teams fighting to make the playoffs. India limited-overs stars Dinesh Karthik and Hardik Pandya can make their mark here with bat and ball respectively, says Jamie Pacheco...

"That batting position certainly hasn’t stopped him from getting runs. He’s the team’s top scorer with 316 and remarkably, has actually faced more balls than anyone else in the side (316). That suggests that Kolkata adopt a bit of a hell-for-leather approach at the top of the order where players are encouraged to go for it in the pursuit of quick runs even if they get out. It also suggests that’s a good price about the skipper, Karthik."

Kolkata Knight Riders v Mumbai Indians
Wednesday, 15:30
Live on Sky Sports Cricket

Which Kolkata will turn up?

It's hard to know what to make of the Knight Riders after 10 games. Sunday was a case in point. They really should have gone on to beat Mumbai, chasing 182. After 12 overs they were 111/2 needing what should have been a straightforward 71 off 48 balls but in the end lost by 13 runs.

He's been good with the bat but Dinesh Karthik has made some questionable decisions in his role as skipper. And he did so on Sunday as well. Why didn't Sunil Narine, fresh from quickfire scores of 26, 27 and 32 at the top of the order, open the batting? Why did Andre Russell, who had impressive figures of two wickets and 12 runs conceded off two overs, not bowl his full quota when everyone else was going around the park?

One thing is pretty obvious, though. They're a quality overseas player short in the fast bowling department. Tom Curran and Mitchell Johnson have been as bad as each other. They've both gone for over 10 an over. When Mitchell Starc was ruled out through injury before the IPL started they could and should have brought in a better T20 specialist than the young England player. But hey, we all make mistakes.

The smart money is on Kolkata finishing third or fourth and having to make the final the hard way.

Hardik Pandya peaking at the right time

Mumbai's win over Kolkata just two days ago had a double effect. Not only did it halt Kolkata's progress but it allowed the Indians back into the mix.

This is arguably their most important match of the season. Win it and they're tied on points with the Knight Riders, lose it and it's four points separating them and almost certainly game over for Rohit Sharma's men.

They've finally bitten the bullet and dropped Kieron Pollard. But his replacement- Ben Cutting - has been doing a pretty good impersonation of...Kieron Pollard: batting too low down the order and being expensive with the ball.

Hardik Pandya was the man of the match last time out and is the top wicket-taker in the competition despite bowling far less overs than plenty of others. They'll need plenty more from him if they're to make the Play-Offs.

Can Kolkata stop the rot against Mumbai?

The market on the Exchange is finding it impossible to split the two. That's understandable.

Kolkata are at home and have two more points on the board but Mumbai have momentum courtesy of having won their last two matches, the last of which was against... Kolkata. Remarkably, that was the seventh time in a row they'd beaten the Knight Riders. Sport sometimes throws up these anomalies and Wednesday is a new day and a new game but that awful record against the Indians must surely be on the minds of the hosts.

Ordinarily, you'd say that even money about Kolkata at home was value against virtually anyone but all in all, this market is best left alone.

Karthik a far better chance than the odds suggest

Kolkata's think-tank will have had their reasons for not opening with Narine last time out but he's likely to return to the top of the order here. That should mean a return to a Top 5 of Narine, Chris Lynn, Robin Uthappa, Ntish Rana and Dinesh Karthik. Lynn is too short at 12/5 but you could make a case for each of the others at the respective prices.

It could pay to be a little greedy and go for the one with the biggest price. Karthik is 9/1 and though there's always the possibility he won't beat the crease for long enough to contend, that's obviously reflected in the price.

That batting position certainly hasn't stopped him from getting runs. He's the team's top scorer with 316 and remarkably, has actually faced more balls than anyone else in the side (214). That suggests that Kolkata adopt a bit of a hell-for-leather approach at the top of the order where players are encouraged to go for it in the pursuit of quick runs even if they get out. It also suggests that's a good price about the skipper.

Hardik can do it with ball again

We mentioned Hardik Pandya earlier. It's a little strange that despite not only being the team's top wicket-taker but also the tournament's top wicket-taker, he's just the fourth (joint) favourite to be Mumbai's top bowler here at 4/1.

He's been bowling his full quota of four overs of late and is obviously at the top of his game as his MOM performance last time out proved. He'll also be confident of taking a couple of wickets here again given he's up against the same opponents. Back the man with the x-factor at 4/1.

Jamie's IPL 2018 P/L

Staked: 18 pts
Returned: 15.5 pts
P&L: -2.5 pts

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