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An inspired bowling performance from the Kolkata Knight Riders saw them bounce back from successive defeats to beat the Mumbai Indians in an emphatic fashion to seal their spot in the knock out rounds of the IPL. Chasing a competent 140, Mumbai were at sea against the Kolkata bowlers and lost wickets at regular intervals. If not for the 34 run stand between Sachin Tendulkar (27) and Dinesh Karthik(21) the story would have been even more shameful for the Indians. The wrecker-in-chief as usual was Sunil Narine, who boasted of returns of 4-15. The spin trio of Narine, Iqbal Abdulla (1-23) and Shakib Al Hasan(1-25) engineered Mumbai's disastrous slide. Lakshmipathy Balaji also picked up a creditable 2 wickets conceding only 11 runs. Eventually Mumbai fell shy of the target by 32 runs. Earlier in the day, KKR, who were inserted in to bat first on a testing track overcame a jittery start to register a fighting total. Manoj Tiwary top-scored for the Knights with a steady 41.
The Mumbai Indians, who boosted their play-off prospects with a highly unlikely gritty victory in Bengaluru, hosted the wounded Kolkata Knight Riders at the Wankhede stadium in the 65th match of the IPL extravaganza. The Knights whose descent began with the loss to Mumbai on May 12 were determined to settle scores with the Champion of Champions and shake off successive losses at home. With Delhi having parked themselves at the top of the table, this encounter was tipped to be a race for the second spot.
The flip of the coin went Mumbai's way and Harbhajan stuck to the trend of chasing at the Wankhede. While Mumbai named an unchanged side, KKR, sensing spin was the way to go recalled Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan and Iqbal Abdulla to assist Sunil Narine and Yusuf Pathan. This indicated that Marchant de Lange and Laxmi Shukla had to sit out.
Rudra Pratap Singh struck twice in his first over to put the Knight Riders in early strife. Brendon McCullum (1) was first to depart, falling victim to a debatable lbw decision. Despite the Kiwi batsman advancing down the track the umpire raised his dreaded finger. The very next delivery, Jacques Kallis (0) was bowled by an absolute jaffer of an in-swinger as the full house at the Wankhede erupted. Double trouble would have turned into triple tragedy if Sachin Tendulkar had managed to cling on to a sharp catch at third-man. Gambhir, lucky to be granted a life, helped himself to a couple of fours.
Munaf Patel and Lasith Malinga too zeroed in on the right areas to vindicate Bhajj's tactic of bowling first. The powerplay belonged to Mumbai's disciplined quick-bowlers with KKR at 32-2 in 6 overs.
Though Manoj Tiwary took his own sweet time to get his bearings right, the Kolkata skipper kept the score-card moving. However, Gambhir's innings folded up when Big Kieron Pollard hoodwinked him with a superbly camouflaged slower ball. Gauti had contributed a 23 ball 28 to the team's cause.
Chotta Dada, Tiwary finally got going with back to back fours off Pollard in the 11th over. The new man, Shakib Al Hasan infused urgency into the proceedings to rebuild KKR's innings. They were aided by Bhajji, who seemed to be a pale shadow of his former self, proving to be easy meat. Tiwary broke free and even deposited Malinga over the sight-screen.
The following over, Dwayne Smith, known to be a partnership breaker came into the fray to get rid of Shakib for 13. Moments later, Manoj Tiwary (41) succomed to a reckless shot. The steady fall of wickets showed no signs of abating as the turbanator's wristy throw found Debarata Das(2) short of his crease. At 100-6 in 16 overs, Kolkata were in desperate need of a Yusuf Pathan dhamaka to post a competent total.
Pathan and Rajat Bhatia aided by Malinga's extra pace looted 12 runs from the 17th over. Pollard's tremendous catch running back from point to grasp Pathan's miscue went in vain as the TV umpire caught RP Singh overstepping the bowling crease. The error was costly as Bhatia used the free hit to good effect executing a crucial four.
Lasith Malinga going wicket-less is a once in a blue moon affair. Today was not that day with the Lankan pace machine adding his name into the wickets column by removing Bhatia (12) in his last over. Although Pathan (21*) was guilty of being sedate in his approach, Sunil Narine (9*) threw the kitchen sink at the bowlers and ensured that the Knights reached the 140 mark. Kolkata constructed 46 runs in the final 5 overs.
The Knights after having inherited the momentum from the Indians in the closing stages of their innings began their defence in impressive fashion. Sachin Tendulkar was fortunate to survive a close lbw shout in Shakib's first over. With the ball not coming onto the ball easily due to the inconsistent pace in the pitch, Herchelle Gibbs went into a cocoon. Lakshmipathy Balaji then let a blip in the field undo his good opening spell. The overthrow went all the way to the fence and released a wee bit of pressure off the Indians. The little master slapped a four past cover to dent what would have been an terrific first over from Sunil Narine. Gibbs' painful stay at the crease came to halt with Iqbal Abdulla trapping him leg before for a sluggish 24 ball 13 on the final ball of the powerplay. Chasing 141, MI were in a difficult predicament at 26-1 in 6 overs.
Dinesh Karthik, promoted up the order ahead of Rohit Sharma, injected impetus into the sagging Mumbai innings by virtue of consecutive fours in the next over. The senior statesman, Tendulkar showcased his unmatched class with a trademark upper cut that went all the way for a six.
The Tamil Nadu keeper-batsmen worked the ball into open spaces and milked the bowling. Against the run of play, Narine made Mumbai's favorite son look clumsy thanks to a dream delivery that uprooted Sachin's off-stump.
The Kolkata bowlers snuck in a few quiet overs to push the asking rate to double digits. The mounting tension soon got the better of Karthik, who walked back to the dugout for 20. The match was heading towards a another frenetic finish with Mumbai at 80-3 in 15 overs. The way Gambhir marshaled his tweakers in the middle overs was commendable.
Ambati Rayudu charged at Shakib only to be stumped for 11. Pollard required no warm up balls and opened his account with a brute four over long on. However, veteran Kallis took down the West Indian duo of Pollard (8) and Dwayne Smith (0) off consecutive balls to drive Kolkata into pole position.
Harbhajan Singh (1) too did not trouble the scorers much and bowed down to the mystery man, Narine. Rohit Sharma(12) also returned to the hutch in the same over. The equation for Mumbai was an improbable 36 from 12 balls. The tail-enders couldn't even bat out the 20 overs. Mumbai were wiped out for 108 as KKR romped home by a comfortable margin of 32 runs.
The Mumbai Indians will next be in action on Sunday against the Rajasthan Royals in the final game of the League stage of the IPL. Kolkata meanwhile will take on Ganguly's Pune Warriors at the Subrata Roy stadium on Saturday.
MI: S Tendulkar, H Gibbs, R Sharma, D Karthik(wk), A Rayudu, K Pollard, D Smith, H Singh(c), L Malinga, RP Singh, M Patel
KKR: G Gambhir(c), B McCullum(wk), J Kallis, M Tiwary, D Das, Y Pathan, S Al Hassan, I Abdulla, R Bhatia, S Narine, L Balaji
KKR 140-7 (20 overs, 7 rpo)
M Tiwary 41(43) RP Singh 2-35
G Gambhir 28(23) D Smith 1-8
MI 108 all out( 19.1 overs, 6.63 rpo)
S Tendulkar 27(24) S Narine 4-15
D Karthik 21(26) L Balaji 2-11
MI won by 32 runs
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