Kolkata Knight Riders v Mumbai Indians: Indians to secure play-offs by eliminating KKR

Rohit Sharma Mumbai Indians IPL 2019
Rohit Sharma is leading Mumbai Indians from the front at IPL 2019

A win at Eden Gardens takes Mumbai Indians into the IPL 2019 play-offs. James Buttler thinks KKR will suffer their seventh straight defeat and bow out with a whimper...

"It's imposible for me to suggest you back KKR to win this game. Yes, of course Andre Russell could do something special, but in 99% of variables to consider, Mumbai Indians are the pick for this match. I think the 1.845/6 for the Indians to win is an excellent price."

Kolkata Knight Riders v Mumbai Indians
Sunday April 25, 15:30
Live on BT Sport and Star Gold (Sky channel 729)

KKR riding to the exit door

Kolkata started their IPL 2019 season with four wins in five games. Since then they have suffered six straight defeats and they now face Mumbai Indians knowing that another loss means curtains to their dwindling play-off hopes.

Skipper Dinesh Karthik hit his highest T20 score of 97 in the most recent three-wicket loss to an equally poor Rajasthan Royals side. Karthik has left it too late to come to the party and for far too long KKR have been reliant on the superhuman hitting of Andre Russell. We could see the unusual situation of Russell scooping up a lot of tournament awards long after he and his team have returned home. Russell has been sensational but his teammates have been inconsistent and have not backed him up. One man alone cannot win an IPL.

KKR's seam bowling was very weak against Rajasthan. Sunil Narine (2-25) and Piyush Chawla (3-20) were the wicket-takers with spin, but Carlos Brathwaite and Prithvi Raj were expensive. It's a home tie and they need to lift their fans, but KKR seem destined to be leaving IPL 2019 with the meekest of whimpers.

Mumbai Indians buoyed by CSK win

Mumbai Indians have been my pick to win IPL 2019 from the start, and I am still quietly confident, particularly after their thumping 46-run win over Chennai Super Kings on Friday. That victory knocked a huge hole in the chances of Kolkata Knight Riders, Royal Challengers Bangalore and Rajasthan Royals of reaching the playoffs. It also means that a win over Kolkata will guarantee the Mahela Jayawardene coached franchise a spot in the last four.

Mumbai are second in the table with 14 points from their 11 games. The fact that the fixtures now see Rohit Sharma's side play KKR twice in a week will not fill them with any fear. They have a commanding head-to-head record in this encounter and should now be concentrating on securing a top two berth to ease their play-off passage.

With skipper Rohit now finding form too Mumbai appear to be coming to the boil just at the crucial time in this tournament. His 67 from 48 balls saw off CSK and a fully firing Sharma is a major Mumbai asset. I believe Rohit to also be the best captain in the competition and he has his Indians playing like a team, whereas KKR rely on individuals. Quinton de Kock, Hardik Pandya, Keiron Pollard, Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah have all made serious contributions and the immediate future for Mumbai looks exciting.

Mumbai all the way in match markets

It's imposible for me to suggest you back KKR to win this game. Yes, of course Andre Russell could do something special, but in 99% of variables to consider, Mumbai Indians are the pick for this match. I think the 1.845/6 for the Indians to win is an excellent price. Mumbai Indians have won 18 of 23 games played between these teams. At Eden Gardens, Mumbai have won seven times out of a possible nine. Put it this way, if this was a football match I'd be playing Mumbai -2 in the match handicaps.

Get behind Rohit Sharma run spree

In the Mumbai batting market you can't ignore the in-form Rohit Sharma after his match-winning half-century against CSK. When he is on song he is one of the best one-day batsmen in world cricket and his price of 5/2 to be leading MI batsman on Sunday is okay by me for a full stakes play, but I'm getting a little more greedy and taking the 9/2 of Rohit to be the leading match batsman. I always like to have a bigger priced saver just in case early wickets tumble and Kieron Pollard at 6/1 is where the half-stake will go.

Some other pro-Mumbai bets

I'm sticking with pro-Mumbai bets in this preview as I simply can't see KKR competing. I'm even ignoring the Andre Russell batting like a train markets - even he looked off the boil against Rajasthan.

In the Man of the Match markets, Rohit Sharma at 9/1, Kieron Pollard 10/1 and Suryakumar Yadav at 12/1 are worthy of a half-stakes nibble. Andre Russell at 7/1 is always worth a play just in case!

Finally, a century to be scored at 15/2 is a bet that has landed for me already in this IPL and let's go again.

***

Follow James on Twitter @cricket_badger

James Buttler at IPL 2019

Units Staked 60.50
Units Returned 73.13
Profit/Loss: +12.63 units

IPL 2018 P/L +10.83
IPL 2017 P/L +3.36

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