Mumbai: Rohit Sharma once again denied Kolkata Knight Riders a win, as he scored 68 off 49 balls to take Mumbai Indians to a six-wicket victory at the Wankhede stadium in Mumbai on Thursday.
Earlier, KKR scored 174/5 on the back of a 69-run opening partnership between Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa.
The last four titles in the Indian Premier League belong to Mumbai Indians (MI) and Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), and the last match between the two showed the reason for their dominance. However, the defending champions have been on a patchy run, winning only three of their seven matches so far this season, while KKR’s only loss of the season came against MI at the Eden Gardens.
RohitSharma, while batting second this season, has scored 84*, 62, 65 and the MI skipper once again looked on course for a big score when he started the 175-run chase with a 80m six off Jaydev Undakat’s second ball. But Mumbai Indians’ happy beginning did not last long. Umesh Yadav removed Parthiv Patel in the first ball of the second over to strike the first blow. But, Patel’s departure did not affect the plans of the home side. Ambati Rayudu and Rohit made sure that the run-flow continued by taking the attack to the bowlers. Rayudu, in particular, took a liking to Unadkat just before the end of thepowerplay,and smashed the left-arm pacer for 19 in the over.
With 64 runs at the end of the powerplay, the ball was firmly in Mumbai’s court. The required run rate had dipped from 8.75 to7.92 and nine wickets were in hand for the defending champions. Spin has been KKR’s strength and Gambhir brought back Shakib, after a 10-run first over, in search of a wicket. The left-arm spinner delivered what the captain asked of him in the fifth ball of the over with some help from Suryakumar Yadav near the long-on boundary to remove Rayudu. The right-handed batsman went for a slog against Shakib and the ball looked like it would sail just over the ropes. Local lad Suryakumar Yadav then broke the hearts of the home fans by leaping across and catching it just before the ropes to end Rayudu’s innings.
The other spinner in the KKR ranks, Sunil Narine removed Krunal Pandya in the ninth over and the pendulum again shifted, this time in the favour of the away side. But, Rohit was still there for the defending champions. The right-hander brought up his fourth 50 of the season – all of them scored in the second innings – in the 12thover as he and Jos Buttler started to perform a repeat of their partnership that took the team over the ropes at the Eden Gardens. Narine was not there for the away side that day, and he showed his importance to the team by removing Buttler the next over with some acrobatics from Chirs Lynn nearthe boundary.
Earlier, with the last three matches at the Wankhede Stadium going in favour of the chasing side, bowling first was the safest decision, and Rohit Sharma chose the obvious. MI went in with their tried and tested XI, while KKR brought in Chris Lynn, the highest run-getter in the 2015/16 Big Bash League, and Jaydev Unadkat in place of Morne Morkel and Piyush Chawla.
With three fifty-run stands already in the season, the opening pair of Robin Uthappa and Gautham Gambhir once again showed their prowess on the night by forming their fourth half-century partnership of the season. McClenaghan had the opportunity to dismiss the KKR skipper early, but the Kiwi pacer made a meal of a skier off his own bowling to give Gambhir an extra life. Similar to Gambhir’s 64-run knock last time when these two met at the Eden Gardens, when Rohit Sharma dropped Gambhir, the left-hander once again made the most of the opportunity and scored 59 off 45 balls.
Although Gambhir started slowly, Uthappa made sure the run-rate stayed above the nine-run mark by sending Bumrah and Harbhajan to the stands in back-to-back overs. The partnership was looking ominous, but Harbhajan removed Uthappa in the eighth over to end the 69-run stand. Shakib came and went without anyone noticing, but Gambhir and last match’s hero Suryakumar Yadav kept the runscoming and scored 44 runs in the next five overs.
Gambhir sent Krunal Pandya twice to the deep midwicket boundary in the 13th over, one for a six and other for a boundary, to bring up his third fifty of the season, as he threatened to take the game away from the home side. Realising the danger, Rohit brought back McClenaghan and the purple cap holder delivered immediately by removing Gambhir.
Gambhir’s wicket hurt KKR’s momentum, and they lost two more wickets in quick succession to look out of sorts for the first time in the match. The 200+ score, which once looked possible was out of the window.
But, Yusuf Pathan was still at the crease and he along with Chris Lynn took the team to174/5 at the end with some support from Tim Southee, who dropped back-to-back catches at the deep midwicket boundaryin the 19th over.hey lost two more wickets in quick succession to look out of sorts for the first time in the match. The 200+ score, which once looked possible, was out of the window. But, Yusuf Pathan was still at the crease andhealong with Chris Lynn took the team to174/5 at the end with some support from Tim Southee, who dropped back-to-back catches at the deep midwicket boundaryin the 19th over.
Brief Scores: KKR 174/5 in 20 overs (Gambhir 59(45), Uthappa36(20), Southee 2/38) lost to MI178/4 in 18/20 overs (Rohit 68*(49), Pollard 51*(17), Narine 2/22) by six wickets.