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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 19 September 2018

IPL 2018: KKR and Mumbai Indians battling for play-off spot

Mumbai carry momentum into Wednesday's game after beating same team at home on Sunday

Mumbai Indians may have an upper hand over Kolkata Knight Riders in the return leg after beating them at home. Rafiq Maqbool / AP Photo
Mumbai Indians may have an upper hand over Kolkata Knight Riders in the return leg after beating them at home. Rafiq Maqbool / AP Photo

Indian Premier League (IPL) fans will likely be treated to a big game on Wednesday when Kolkata Knight Riders host Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens.

All eight teams have four games left before the play-offs kick off, but it is increasingly looking like the battle for the fourth and final qualification spot will be between Kolkata and Mumbai. If the visitors pull it off, it will have been one of the most remarkable recoveries staged by a franchise in this Twenty20 tournament's 10-year history.

But their road to a potential play-off place will surely lie through the eastern Indian city on Wednesday as Dinesh Karthik's team will likely prove difficult to beat in their backyard. That Kolkata are not placed higher in the table is a travesty given how Karthik himself and the spin bowlers have performed.

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But Mumbai will carry some momentum from their win over the same opponents when they clashed at Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. Particularly heartening about their performance was how they fared in the death overs.

The Pandyas - Hardik and his brother Krunal - did their jobs as pinch-hitters scoring 35 and 14 respectively as Mumbai posted 181-4. The two all-rounders then took three crucial wickets between them to stunt Kolkata's run chase.

The conditions will be different in Kolkata with the spin of Sunil Narine likely to make a bigger impact. But if captain Rohit Sharma can get some runs at the top of the order with others chipping in, Mumbai may well be a threat to the home side.

For Kolkata, Karthik and his deputy Robin Uthappa will be the danger men and how they tackle the leg-spin of Mayank Markande could decide the fate of the game.

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