x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Gambhir backs Knight Riders to bounce back from loss

Kolkata were beaten by Mumbai Indians in the final IPL group game, but the captain says it has not damaged the confidence of his charges.

Gautam Gambhir is confident there will be no damage to the confidence of the Kolkata Knight Riders squad when they take on the Mumbai Indians in tonight's elimination match.

The two sides met on Sunday in the final IPL group game, and Kolkata had looked on track to win as they had left Mumbai requiring 21 runs to win off the last over of their innings.

But the improbable task was achieved by Ambati Rayudu, who clubbed 23 off a poor over by Lakshmipathy Balaji, to ensure they have the momentum for tonight's game, which will decide who faces Bangalore in the final qualifying match on Friday to reach Saturday's final, with the loser exiting the competition.

Gambhir, the Kolkata captain, denied the loss would have any bearing on this match or how his team prepared for proceedings at the Wankhede Stadium.

"I am not disappointed and have real confidence in my bowlers especially Balaji," the Indian batsman said.

"The play-off game will be a different ball game. We have to do the things in the hard way now."

Mumbai will start as slight favourites, if largely because of the form of their bowling attack.

Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lankan pace bowler, has taken 27 wickets in the competition, and his ability to strike early in an opponent's innings with his inswinging yorkers or in the final overs has proven crucial.

Kolkata will be without Eoin Morgan, who has returned to England to play for his country against Sri Lanka in the first Test in Cardiff.