Nitish Rana, Hardik Pandya punish sloppy KKR

Mumbai Indians pulled off a thrilling four-wicket win on Sunday (April 9) over Kolkata Knight Riders to register their first win of the tournament. Knight Riders would rue their poor performance on the field that cost them a game that they had in the bag at one stage during the run chase. Manish Pandey’s fine efforts with the bat in the first innings went in vain.

The unlikely heroes

The team that has the likes of Jos Buttler, Rohit Sharma, Kieron Pollard and Lasith Malinga found two unlikely heroes to pull off a heist. Despite the home side’s best efforts to attack Chris Lynn and Gautam Gambhir with Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah, Knight Riders raced to 44 off the first four overs which prompted Rohit to introduce spin. The move paid dividends as Krunal Pandya completely halted Knight Riders’s momentum by getting rid of Gambhir and the out-of-form Robin Uthappa in the same over.

He continued to mix his length and found some bounce as well on the surface to keep Knight Riders in check. He combined with his brother Hardik Pandya to send Yusuf Pathan back into the pavilion and could have had Pandey as well earlier in that over had Parthiv Patel not dropped the outside edge.

While Krunal stepped up with the ball, it was Nitish Rana who hit a blazing half-century to revive a floundering chase. Mumbai Indians began their chase of 179 in fine fashion with a 65-run opening stand but were then hurt by a flurry of wickets. Rana showed intent right from the start and even though his side lost three wickets in quick succession, he took on Kuldeep Yadav to hit a four and a six off consecutive deliveries. He repeated the feat against Trent Boult in the 18th over which brought down the equation to 30 from 12. Ankit Rajpoot, who had a good game until then, bore the brunt in the penultimate over as the youngster improvised to scoop the ball over the ropes. He brought up a 28-ball fifty but his dismissal immediately gave Knight Riders a sniff.

Knight Riders self destruct

Defending 11 runs from six deliveries, Knight Riders could have still pulled it off had they been good on the field and did the basics right. The dew perhaps had a role to play as Suryakumar Yadav fumbled in the boundary to leak a needless four that not only brought the equation down to 5 from 4 but kept Hardik Pandya on strike. It was the last thing Knight Riders needed as Hardik had already struck two sixes before that. Boult brought it down to 5 from 3 but then Hardik gave the opposition an opportunity to close this game down by top edging a pull. Rishi Dhawan, the substitute fielder, had all the time in the world but he spilled it much to the delight of the Wankhede crowd. Pandya then whacked the next ball towards fine leg to fetch a boundary which was followed by some wild celebrations.

Pandey catches MI off-guard

Mumbai Indians would have been chasing down a much lesser score though if not for Manish Pandey. Walking out after the double strike, Pandey naturally took time to get into the groove while watching Lynn attempt the big shots. But then two overs later, Bumrah got rid of the big fish Chris Lynn and as a result, Pandey had to curb his attacking instincts for a longer duration than he would have liked. At one stage, he was batting on 14 off 18 deliveries and had luck on his side when he was dropped on the same score.

Pandey then opened the face of the bat to guide one smartly to the third man region for his second boundary. He followed it up with well timed ramp over third man to fetch a six off Mitchell McClenaghan to take his strike rate over 100. But the real shift in gears were witnessed only after the 15th over when he took a liking to Bumrah’s bowling. With the bowler missing the yorker by an inch, Pandey took advantage to smash him over long on and followed it up with a four.

After reaching his half-century off 37 balls, Pandey turned the game on its head by smashing 31 runs in the last two overs. At one point, it looked as if Mumbai Indians wouldn’t go past 160 but after depositing Malinga for a six over midwicket, Pandey smashed McClenaghan for two fours and two sixes to score 23 runs off the final over of the innings. And suddenly the target was 179, at least 20 runs more than what was anticipated.

What could have been

Had Mumbai Indians lost, the focus would have clearly been on the costly decisions during their run chase. After getting a rough one in the first game, Jos Buttler was at the receiving end again in his second successive outing. He had inside edged a ball onto his pad against Imran Tahir against Rising Pune Supergiant in his side’s first game but was still given out and tonight, it was a case of the ball sliding down leg. Ankit found late swing to trap Buttler but the movement clearly indicated that the ball would have missed the stumps.

By the time Mumbai could recover from the blow, they saw Rohit given out just eight balls later and this one was a much bigger blunder. Sunil Narine bowled an offbreak after bowling plenty of legbreaks to fox the batsman and appealed for lbw immediately after wrapping the batsman on his pads. But the umpire missed a huge inside edge which evoked an angry response from the batsman and understandably so.

Where do they go?

Buoyed by the win, Mumbai Indians will be hoping to stop Sunrisers Hyderabad at Wankhede on April 12.

Knight Riders though, will be looking to pull themselves up after this defeat and will have the comfort of their home ground to do so. It remains to be seen if Lynn will be available for the clash against Kings XI Punjab on April 13 after he left the field with an injured shoulder.

Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 178/7 in 20 overs (Manish Pandey 81*, Chris Lynn 32; Krunal Pandya 3-24, Lasith Malinga 2-36) lost to Mumbai Indians 180/6 in 19.5 overs (Nitish Rana 50, Parthiv Patel 30; Ankit Rajpoot 3-37, Sunil Narine 1-22) by 4 wickets.

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