IPL 9-KKR vs MI: Rohit Sharma eyes Eden Gardens high

Mumbai Indians skipper wants to maintain his fine record at his favourite venue when the defending champions take on Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday

Kolkata: Last year, Mumbai Indians lost their first three matches but went on to lift the title. Rohit Sharma & Co have made a disastrous start to an IPL campaign again but, surely, they wouldn't want to trust such a template to deliverance a second time. Today, the champions take on a team that is dangerous in its den with the knowledge that consecutive losses could consign them to an uneasy catch-up game.

Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma
Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma

In contrast to Mumbai's morale-sapping loss to Rising Pune Supergiants, the Kolkata Knight Riders are flush from Sunday's nine-wicket drubbing of Delhi Daredevils. The hosts may get back bowling mainstay Sunil Narine, who was expected to land yesterday evening, though the West Indian 'mystery' bowler's effectiveness has run into fresh doubts following another bout of bowling action rectification and lab tests.

MI batsmen struggle
It was Mumbai's batting, supposedly their strength, that let them down at the Wankhede on Saturday, and Rohit will have to lead from the front on a wicket that looks full of runs. Mumbai Indians can draw inspiration from the fact that the Eden Gardens has been a happy hunting ground for them, and an exceptional one for their skipper. Saturday's top-order collapse may prompt a change or two, if not in personnel then in the plans. In a line-up of right-handers, the inclusion of southpaw Parthiv Patel, complete with his wicketkeeping skills, may be an option to open up a few fronts.

The Knights, their seam attack augmented at the auction in February, will face a dilemma on the foreigners' front. Given the four-player restrictions, the inclusion of Narine may have to come at the expense of Brad Hogg, who returned magical figures of 4-1-19-3 against the Daredevils. The injured Lasith Malinga will be out “for a few more weeks”, informed Rohit, and young Jasprit Bumrah will have to step up again to lessen the impact of the slinger's absence.

Victory over CSK
The two teams had met early last season too, with KKR prevailing despite a fine unbeaten 98 by Rohit. But, then, the lingering memory of IPL 2015 for Mumbai Indians is surely the smooth victory over Chennai Super Kings in the final more than a month-and-a-half later, the skipper again contributing with a fifty. It's early days in the lengthy league, but it's a good time and a good place for a turnaround for the reigning champions.

98* & 50
Mumbai Indians skipper
Rohit Sharma's score at the Eden Gardens in IPL last year

Captains' wishlist
Mumbai Indians Rohit Sharma
> He puts up a big opening stand with Lendl Simmons
> Harbhajan continues his fine form with bat and ball
> Opener Gautam Gambhir has an off day

Kolkata Knight Riders Gautam Gambhir
> Spinner Brad Hogg is bang on target
> Andre Russell provides crucial breakthroughs
> Spinner Piyush Chawla restricts flow of runs

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