Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders: Russell the muscle

Andre Russell
Russell is ready to go big

Ed Hawkins previews a potentially explosive contest between two giants of the tournament in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday...

"Given the advantage the chaser has at the venue and Kolkata's problems defending, it would take a brave punter to back them before the toss"

Back the chaser at 5/61.85 or better (3pts)

Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders
Wednesday 22 September, 15:00
Live on Sky Sports

Mumbai to adapt

The champions got off to a losing start against Chennai Super Kings in the opener, despite enjoying positions of significant strength after batting first.

They looked set for a big total at 92 for two in the 11th and even though they fell away to post 162, the Indians were back in charge after reducing Chennai to nine for two. That was as good as it got as they went down by five wickets.

Pre-tournament fears about the strength of their spin attack were realised with both Krunal Pandya and Rahul Chahar going for more than nine an over. We're also unconvinced by overseas bowling dup James Pattinson and Trent Boult. If fit, Nathan Coulter-Nile would be a better option while Mitchell McClenaghan is also vastly experienced

Possible XI Rohit (capt), de Kock (wk), Suryakumar, Tiwary, Hardik, Krunal, Pollard, Coulter-Nile, McClenaghan, Chahar, Bumrah.

Batting power

This will be our first look at the much-hyped 'most powerful batting unit ever assembled in T20'. Sunil Narine, Ntish Rana, Andre Russell, Eoin Morgan, and Dinesh Karthik are explosive.

The big question is: can they keep it tight in the field? On two-year form they have a win rate of only 35.7% when batting first and the bowling unit looks light again. There is an awful lot of pressure on Pat Cummins and Kuldeep Yadav while Narine's long-standing injury, which meant he missed chunks of the Caribbean Premier League, is a concern.

Balance is an issue. Do they pick an extra batter in Rahul Tripathi and gamble on five bowlers with Russell on standby as a sixth bowler? Or do they pick a Pravin Tambe, say, to give them extra control with the batting more than powerful enough?

Our call would be the latter. We suspect coach Brendon McCullum will do the former.

Probable XI Gill, Narine, Tripathi, Rana, Morgan, Russell, Karthik (capt & wk), Cummins, Varun, Kuldeep, Warrier

Last year head-to-heads

MI 134-1 (Sharma 55*) chased KKR 133-7 (Hardik 2-20)
KKR 232-2 (Russell 80*, Hardik 1-30) defended MI 198-8 (Hardik 91, Russell 2-25)
Overall MI 19 KKR 6

Pitch report

This is game two in Abu Dhabi. The wicket looked pretty decent for batting first up but it definitely seemed to assist the chaser. The dew gave the pitch some extra zip and the bowlers seemed to have some issues with grip. The average first-innings winning score is 155 and the toss bias for the chaser is on the cusp of 60%.

KKR must chase

Given the advantage the chaser has at the venue and Kolkata's problems defending, it would take a brave punter to back them before the toss.

It may even take some guts to pick the chaser when the toss is known because of the potential for something big - in terms of target and price - at the break. It is possible that KKR or Mumbai could be 7/52.40 or bigger. MI are currently 10/111.89 with KKR pushing 1/12.0.

Certainly a wager on KKR is likely to be a wild ride. They have the worst economy rate in the death overs so expect a charge from the 16th onwards. With the bat, they are the highest scorers in the death overs. Traders should expect that KKR's price will rise and drop respectively with ball and bat respectively at the death.

Tops value

Is Russell value for top KKR bat at Sportsbook's 9/2, implied probability of 18.2%? Yes, on two-year form. He has six wins in 27 so there is a 4% swing in our favour.

Suryakumar Yadav has eight wins in 30 in the last two years on the top bats for Mumbai so the 9/2 with Sportsbook fits the bill. Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock are too short at 21/1- and 3/1 respectively. Sharma has a win rate of just 16.6% in the last two years. De Kock has won just 16%.

Hardik Pandya is the pick of the bowlers on win rate. He wins just shy of 28% of the time. Sportsbook rate him at 20%.

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