Work of nemesis: Mumbai beat Kolkata by 9 runs in a tense match at the Eden Gardens

An overly gung-ho approach from Kolkata Knight Riders’s batsmen proved suicidal in what was a tense match at the Eden Gardens. Chasing only a modest target of 174, the insecurity of the Kolkata batsmen, many of whom tried to hit a six or a four off every ball, resulted in the hosts falling short by nine runs and missing out on a top-two spot. Gautam Gambhir, speaking in the post-match interview, said that the “irresponsible shots” played by the KKR batsmen were the reason for his team’s loss to Mumbai Indians, who, with this win, finished the league stage in first place.

Sunil Narine and Chris Lynn opened the batting once again for Knight Riders, looking to cause mayhem as they so often have this season. Mumbai, though, had the right kind of bowlers to strangle Narine, in particular. The big-hitting West Indian didn’t alter his approach and was deceived by a Tim Southee off-cutter which he tried to hit over the inner ring of fielders on the off-side. Narine didn’t get the kind of contact he wanted and skied the ball in the air. Fielding at cover, Hardik Pandya took a simple catch. Knight Riders’s most impactful player was out on the fourth delivery of the innings.

Gambhir joined Lynn in the middle and both these batsmen tried to maximise the field restrictions inside the powerplay. Ideally, Gambhir will have been the more sedate partner who concentrates on rotating strike and allows Lynn to play his natural game. But this pair, like most others in the KKR batting line-up, went on an all-out attack and unfortunately for them, their approach didn’t pay off. Gambhir was dismissed by Johnson with a good length delivery and Lynn holed out to deep mid-wicket, hitting a half-tracker from Vinay Kumar flat and straight to the substitute fielder Jagadeesha Suchith.

In between these two dismissals, Robin Uthappa, batting at No. 4 once again, fell cheaply and softly. Trying to hit a length delivery from Karn Sharma inside out over extra cover, the Karnataka batsman caught the ball high on his blade and the ballooning ball was caught by Rohit Sharma at cover. Kolkata Knight Riders scored 53 runs in the powerplay and were well ahead of the required run-rate, but unenviably and significantly, lost the three big wickets of Narine, Gambhir and Uthappa.

They needed a solid partnership to lend stability to the innings and shift the pressure back on to the visitors. Lynn, though, failed to curb his natural instinct, which is to see the ball and strike it as hard as he can, and failed to connect properly with a hit-me delivery from Vinay. And Kolkata lost their fourth wicket quickly after the fall of the third, and on the second ball after the powerplay (6.2), with Lynn dismissed for 26.

KKR vs MI was a wonderful contest to witness from a neutral’s viewpoint. Wickets fell at regular intervals, every over had a boundary or two being hit and the two teams were landing punches at each other.

Despite taking wickets in quick successions, Mumbai found themselves under the cosh on a fair few occasions. They were defending only 173 and had to contend with playing conditions which can be deemed less favourable to the bowlers and the fielding side: the boundary at the Eden Gardens is small and the batsmen normally get good value for their shots. And Mumbai had a second-string bowling attack featuring the likes of Vinay and Southee, who are more often than not predictable in the way they operate.

Jasprit Bumrah was rested, Krunal Pandya, another key bowler for Mumbai, was just returning from an injury, and the visitors, other than Johnson, did not have a genuine wicket-taker up their sleeve.

Yusuf Pathan walked in at the fall of the fourth wicket (Lynn). He had made his mind up to take on the bowling and backed himself to “clear the boundary”. His stance was a clear giveaway that he was looking to hit the ball in the air. The first ball he faced, Pathan threw his bat at a wide delivery outside off stump from Vinay and got a thick outside edge which carried the ball over third man for a six. KKR had just lost a wicket and given Pathan’s experience, you might have expected him to buckle down and look to arrest the constant fall of wickets. But he looked to counter-attack and was quite successful in his endeavour.

Yusuf Pathan’s approach scared the life out of Mumbai, who, as aforementioned, were only defending a small total. Here was a batsman who looked to hit every ball for a four or a six and Knight Riders, despite losing their top order relatively cheaply, were motoring along at close to 10 runs per over. Pathan gathered 19 runs off his first four deliveries (6, 1, 6, and 6) and Kolkata, from 53/4 after 6.2 overs, reached 80/4 at the end of eight overs. The required run-rate got to less than eight runs per over and Mumbai badly needed a wicket.

A couple of more overs of Pathan could have caused irrecoverable damage to Rohit Sharma’s men, but the high-risk approach of the senior Pathan was likely to give Mumbai a chance of dismissing him. And Vinay Kumar provided Mumbai the breakthrough they were after, of Pathan, who holed out to long-on in trying to hit a length delivery down the ground. His was a breezy innings of 20 runs off seven balls.

Kolkata had wiped out half their target but also lost half their side (87/5) and the match was very evenly poised. Colin de Grandhomme hadn’t quite lived up to his reputation with the bat, but here was a situation for him to show how good he is. Grandhomme played sensibly and cashed in on some poor bowling from Vinay in particular. The Karnataka Ranji captain offered width in what was his third over (the 11th of the innings) and de Grandhomme pounced on the gentle seam-ups from Vinay, guiding the ball behind square on the off-side, piercing the gap between short third man and backward point and collecting a couple of boundaries. Rohit was livid with Vinay, who failed to lend the control his captain wanted from him. Again, despite taking wickets, Mumbai struggled to stem the run flow and the boundaries being hit.

With the likes of Pathan and de Grandhomme scoring at such humongous rates, Manish Pandey’s job became easier. He had to just ensure that he wasn’t stranded at one end and by doing so, didn’t break the rhythm his batting partners were in.

With Pandey and de Grandhomme in the middle, 14 runs came off the 11th over, nine runs were scored off the 12th and the 13th over was another big one as well (11 runs), and Kolkata had gotten themselves into a great position (126/5), needing to score just 48 more runs from 42 balls. But given how this innings had panned out so far, a Mumbai backlash wasn’t out of the question.

And the visitors hit back just when the match was getting out of control. Hardik Pandya struck on the first ball of the 15th over, dismissing de Grandhomme with a rapid delivery that zipped off the pitch and clean bowled the New Zealander, to bring his team back into the match.

The junior Pandya would go on to bowl an extremely significant four-over spell, in which he conceded just 22 runs and took the wickets of de Grandhomme and Pandey, who was the last recognised KKR batsmen to be dismissed. Once they got the wicket of de Grandhomme, Mumbai could breathe a huge sigh of relief because thereafter they only had to contend with Pandey, to whom they can grant a single and bowl to the tailenders at the other end. Mumbai closed out the match efficiently.

Earlier in the evening, a much-changed Mumbai batting line-up put up a reasonably good show at the Eden Gardens, where, having been asked to bat first, they posted 173/5 against a good Knight Riders bowling attack. Saurabh Tiwary and Ambati Rayudu, playing their first and second matches of this season and having come into the side in the places of Parthiv Patel and Nitish Rana respectively, hit vital half-centuries that actually helped Mumbai get to the total they did.

Lendl Simmons fell for a nought in the third over of the innings and losing the West Indian early meant that the visitors did not get off to an explosive start as they usually have this season. Rohit Sharma promoted himself to No. 3 in the batting line-up and at his most favourite cricketing venue, the Mumbai stylist had an air of confidence about him. The way he played also provided evidence of how he was feeling inside.

Though Rohit stroked the ball well and looked good while he was out in the middle, his was a short stay at the crease. Just when he started to look fluent, Ankit Singh Rajpoot trapped him in front with a genuine inswinger. Rohit was gone for 27 off 21 balls, and Mumbai had two batsmen who were, as aforementioned, playing just their first and second match.

The fact that Tiwary and Rayudu haven’t batted in a match situation this season before tonight was evident from the way they began their innings. They were beaten on many an occasion outside their off stump and struggled to rotate strike. What Tiwary and Rayudu did well, however, was they found the boundary from time to time, so the dot deliveries weren’t as damaging as they otherwise might have.

Knight Riders were in control of the proceedings, despite a couple of their premier bowlers uncharacteristically hemorrhaging runs. Umesh Yadav and Sunil Narine were the two KKR bowlers who conceded the most number of runs, with the eight overs between them going for 77 runs without any wickets.

Mumbai were scoring at just seven runs per over and by the end of 14 overs, had only made 105 despite having lost just two wickets. But this is when the course of the innings changed drastically. Rayudu started striking the ball crisply and nonchalantly found the boundary on two or three occasions every over for the remainder of the innings. The visitors scored 69 runs off the final six overs and Rayudu, who was batting on just 20 runs off 18 balls at the start of the 15th over, went on to make a 37-ball 63 before being dismissed. Tiwary managed to get himself a half-century (52) too, though he must have been disappointed with the lack of flow to his innings, which didn’t help Mumbai’s cause either.

Rayudu went on to pick up the man-of-the-match award for this innings, which involved nine hits to the boundary (6×4 and 3×6).

Kolkata vs Mumbai, 54th match scorecard

Playing XIs

Kolkata: 1. Gautam Gambhir (c), 2. Chris Lynn, 3. Robin Uthappa (wk), 4. Manish Pandey, 5. Yusuf Pathan, 6. Colin de Grandhomme, 7. Sunil Narine, 8. Trent Boult, 9. Umesh Yadav, 10. Kuldeep Yadav, and 11. Ankit Singh Rajpoot

Mumbai: 1. Rohit Sharma (c), 2. Saurabh Tiwary, 3. Lendl Simmons, 4. Ambati Rayudu, 5. Kieron Pollard, 6. Hardik Pandya, 7. Karn Sharma, 8. Krunal Pandya, 9. Vinay Kumar, 10. Tim Southee, and 11. Mitchell Johnson


Indians: 173/5 (Rayudu 63 and Tiwary 52; Boult 2/30)
Knight Riders: 164/8 (Pandey 33; Hardik 2/22)

Mumbai Indians (MI) innings (toss: Kolkata, who chose to bowl first)
Batsman Dismissal Runs scored No. of 4s No. of 6s Strike rate
Saurabh Tiwary run out by Umesh 52 (43) 9 0 120.93
Lendl Simmons caught Narine, bowled Boult 0 (5) 0 0 0.00
Rohit Sharma leg before wicket Rajpoot 27 (21) 4 1 128.57
Ambati Rayudu stumped Uthappa, bowled Kuldeep 63 (37) 6 3 170.27
Kieron Pollard caught Yusuf, bowled Boult 13 (11) 0 1 118.18
Hardik Pandya not out 1 (2) 0 0 50.00
Krunal Pandya not out 0 (1) 0 0 0.00
Batsmen who didn’t bat: Karn Sharma, Vinay Kumar, Tim Southee, and Mitchell Johnson
Extras: 17 (6 wides and 11 leg byes)
MI’s total: 173/5 in 20 overs, at 8.65 runs per over
MI’s fall of wickets: 12/1 (Simmons, 2.2), 69/2 (Rohit, 8.2), 130/3 (Tiwary, 15.6), 168/4 (Rayudu, 18.5), and 170/5 (Pollard, 19.4)
Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) bowling
Bowlers Overs Dots bowled Runs conceded Wickets taken Economy rate
Trent Boult 4 13 30 2 7.50
Colin de Grandhomme 2 7 16 0 8.00
Umesh Yadav 4 9 40 0 10.00
Sunil Narine 4 8 37 0 9.25
Kuldeep Yadav 3 5 25 1 8.33
Ankit Singh Rajpoot 3 9 14 1 4.67
Kolkata innings (target: 174 runs in 20 overs, at 8.70 runs per over)
Batsman Dismissal Runs scored No. of 4s No. of 6s Strike rate
Sunil Narine caught Hardik, bowled Southee 0 (4) 0 0 0.00
Chris Lynn caught Suchith (sub), bowled Vinay 26 (14) 3 2 185.71
Gautam Gambhir caught Karn, bowled Johnson 21 (16) 3 1 131.25
Robin Uthappa caught Rohit, bowled Karn 2 (4) 0 0 50.00
Manish Pandey caught Suchith (sub), bowled Hardik 33 (33) 2 0 100.00
Yusuf Pathan caught Hardik, bowled Vinay 20 (7) 0 3 285.71
Colin de Grandhomme bowled Hardik 29 (16) 4 1 181.25
Kuldeep Yadav caught Rayudu, bowled Southee 16 (15) 2 0 106.66
Umesh Yadav not out 4 (4) 0 0 100.00
Trent Boult not out 5 (8) 0 0 62.50
Batsman who didn’t bat: Ankit Singh Rajpoot
Extras: 8 (1 no-ball, 5 wides and 2 leg byes)
KKR’s total: 164/8 in 20 overs, at 8.20 runs per over
KKR’s fall of wickets: 0/1 (Narine, 0.4), 41/2 (Gambhir, 4.3), 53/3 (Uthappa, 5.6), 53/4 (Lynn, 6.2), 87/5 (Yusuf, 8.6), 128/6 (de Grandhomme, 14.1), 149/7 (Pandey, 17.1), and 158/8 (Kuldeep, 18.3)
Mumbai bowling
Bowlers Overs Dots bowled Runs conceded Wickets taken Economy rate
Tim Southee 4 11 39 2 9.75
Mitchell Johnson 4 12 30 1 7.50
Karn Sharma 3 8 26 1 8.67
Vinay Kumar 3 6 31 2 10.33
Krunal Pandya 2 2 14 0 7.00
Hardik Pandya 4 9 22 2 5.50

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