MI look to unnerve KKR in their own den
It's a clash between a team that has almost made it to the play-offs and a team that is just about to make it. A victory or a toss would only end up being the decisive factor.
That is what makes the match between hosts Kolkata Knight Riders and visitors Mumbai Indians -- the first ever this season -- interesting to watch out for.
The Knight Riders have been on a roll, winning their last six matches, and the Mumbai Indians, certainly heavyweights, have been blowing hot and cold in their campaign so far this year.
The tournament is well past the mid-way stage and yet it is for the first time that Mumbai and Kolkata, teams that boast of the right mix of talent and glamour quotient both, are facing each other. However, as far as the journey goes, Kolkata have made it easier for themselves losing just three matches out of twelve -- losing just one match in the last 10 games, while Mumbai are yet to find that consistency with just seven victories to show out of their share of 12 games.
Mumbai Indians batting has looked ordinary with some domination in patches. However, it is their brilliant bowling -- superbly led by Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga -- that has proved a headache for oppositions.
Kolkata Knight Riders too have been outstanding with their slow bowlers this season but what makes their stint a lot better this time is some aggressive captaincy from Gautam Gambhir and the manner in which he has led from the front.
With five half centuries and three man-of-the-match performances already to show, Gambhir has not only led by example but has motivated the side. In one of the victories, that came against Chennai Super Kings, Gambhir also handed over his Man of the Match award to youngster Debabrata Das (11 from 4 balls) for finishing the game with a win.
If the Mumbai Indians have to strike well, they will have to ensure that Gambhir remains tied in this all important game.
Some individual or the other has ended up raising his hand for Mumbai Indians when it has mattered. First Rohit Sharma, then Kieron Pollard, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik, Dwayne Smith and Sachin Tendulkar -- they've all contributed well in some match or the other to show the rest of the teammates the way.
What is now required is a team effort, especially against a confident opposition like Kolkata, and playing in their own den -- the Eden Gardens.
If Mumbai Indians do ensure a team effort, there will be little for any opposition to do but sit and watch a poweful combination of batsmen and bowlers who make an exciting squad.
In four days time, the two teams clash again in the return leg -- such is the scheduling -- and when that happens, the winner of Saturday's clash is bound to hold a certain psychological edge.
So, not just a win but a lot more is at stake when the teams enter the field. A clash waiting to unfold surprises.