With reputation at stake, KKR take on Mumbai Indians

Kolkata, April 23 (IANS) They have drawn a blank in away games, and even lost at home. Now, with their backs to the wall, it is the proverbial "do or die" situation for holders Kolkata Knight Riders as they take on perennial underachievers Mumbai Indians in an Indian Premier League (IPL) match here Wednesday.

After losing four out of six games, including one on home turf, the Knight Riders title defence seems to be in jeopardy, with only four points in their kitty so far. However, the hosts' opponents at the Eden Gardens are not doing any better, mustering just half a dozen points from as many games to be sixth in the points table -- one rung above their opponents for Wednesday.

While their bowling led by West Indies spinner Sunil Narine has looked splendid, batting blues are hunting the Shahrukh Khan-owned franchise. Both skipper Gautam Gambhir and coach Trevor Bayliss have found their willowers guilty of committing "schoolboy errors".

While Gambhir and Englishman Eoin Morgan have fired with the bat, the rest, including big hitting Yusuf Pathan and pivot Jacques Kallis, have looked mere shadows of themselves.

With Morgan now joining Narine and Kallis to be integral to the side's scheme of things, the team management is in a quandary about giving a look in to the explosive New Zealander Brendon McCullum, who so far has warmed the benches, with the other foreigner offie Sachithra Senanayeke of Sri Lanka bowling well.

It will also be interesting to see if Pathan, sent as an opener in the last game, will continue to don his new avatar.

Much like the Knight Riders, the Mumbai Indians too are coming to this game from back-to-back losses. However, unlike their opponents, both their batsmen and bowlers have been in good form.

While wicket keeper batsman Dinesh Karthik and middle order bat Rohit Sharma have been in good nick, the Mumbaikars can always rely on the dangerous Kieron Pollard who can single--handedly change the course of a match both with the bat and the ball.

To guide the enthusiasm of youth, they have batting maestros Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, both of whom have tons of experience.

Led by the ever reliable Lasith Malinga, the Mumbai Indians' bowling too has enough firepower. Along with the Indian spinning duo of Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha, the Mumbai franchise have Australian pacer Mitchell Johnson, who has looked threatening.

Despite having a strong team, MI's campaign in the current edition of the IPL has been inconsistent.

After going down in their opener to Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mumbai thrashed their next three opponents only to be handed a humiliating 87-run defeat by the Rajasthan Royals.

In their next match, despite scoring a sizeable 161, the Mumbai Indians were blown away by a whirlwind 95 from Delhi Daredevils' former captain Virender Sehwag.

The Eden track has been favouring spin, and with both sides boasting of world class spinners as well as exciting batsmen, the hallowed stadium is looking forward to a mouth-watering contest in a clash between rivals where both have their respective reputations at stake.

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