IPL 2020Oct, 30, 2020
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IPL 2020: Mumbai Indians look to continue momentum
Mumbai's strength in batting, bowling and fielding has seen them perform a cut above the rest
Mumbai Indians have been the most impressive side this season so far. They've lost two matches, true, but one of them was the season opener, against Chennai Super Kings, when it could be argued that the team hadn't settled in.
And the second defeat came against Royal Challengers Bangalore in a tantalising Super Over climax that could have gone either way.
For the most, Mumbai's strength in batting, bowling and fielding has seen them perform a cut above the rest. They come into Friday's match with four wins on the trot, including one over Delhi Capitals, the other team which has shown serious depth in all departments of the game.
In contrast, Kolkata Knight Riders have still looked an unsettled side. The batting order has been shuffled and reshuffled, which in a sense suggests shifting tactics. While the T20 format demands flexibility and quick fix solutions during a match, role definition of players if not firmed up in advance can cause confusion within the ranks.
On paper, both teams look evenly matched. In fact, that is one reason why the IPL is so compelling. Unlike say in Premier League football, where the top four-five teams are generally far superior in terms of talent to the rest, in the IPL the spread of talent is even, which means every side has good chance to win.
What makes the difference then between a winning side and a losing one?
It's how well and quickly players jell to form a winning unit. Mumbai's players seem to have done this better than KKR's so far, helped no doubt by the fact that the core team - Rohit Sharma, Quinton de Kock, Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Kieron Pollard, Jasprit Bumrah, Rahul Chahar and the Pandya brothers - Hardik and Krunal - have all been playing together for quite a few seasons.
The rapport between them is evident. Mumbai's four titles - the most by any team - also highlights the virtues of stability and consistency in a squad, apart, of course, from quite superb captaincy by Rohit.
This is the challenge KKR will be up against tonight. Suspense over Sunil Narine, dropped from the last match after his bowling action was reported, remains unresolved at the time of writing this piece. Narine had just about come into wicket-taking form. Without him, KKR are weakened.
Of course, the T20 format is topsy-turvy. A little bit of ill-luck, one inspired performance from the opposition could swing the pendulum the other way. For the moment though, the biggest threat to Mumbai Indians would be overconfidence.
Ayaz Memon is an Indian sports writer and commentator