Poor decision making on the field and extremely poor application on the part of their batsmen sent Kolkata Knight Riders one step closer to elimination, and Mumbai Indians one step closer to the playoffs, after their match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Tuesday (May 7) night.
For the record, Mumbai beat Kolkata by 65 runs, their sixth win out of six at the venue, to move to second spot on the points table, ahead of Rajasthan Royals on Net Run Rate, while Kolkata remained stuck in seventh spot.
There can be no apparent logic in handing the last over of the innings to a medium pacer who has conceded 36 runs from three overs when another medium pacer who has given seven runs from three overs is available. Gautam Gambhir put his faith in Ryan McLaren instead of L Balaji and saw the Mumbai total move from 145 for 6 to 170 for 6; a 25-run damage, which, in a Twenty20 game, is big enough a margin between winning and losing many times over.
Earlier, the Mumbai innings, after the hosts opted to bat, was built around Sachin Tendulkar's 28-ball 48 – 20 of those runs coming in a five-boundary burst in McLaren's second over – and Dwayne Smith’s stuttering, struggling 53-ball 47. Balaji, and later Iqbal Abdulla, not only bottled Smith up, they also managed to keep Tendulkar away from the strike when Tendulkar, for a change in IPL VI, looked in good touch.
Their partnership, worth 93 runs, lasted till the 13th over – a power outage adding drama to the proceedings – after which Rajat Bhatia got Tendulkar and Abdulla got Smith in quick succession. The innings was thrown further off gear when McLaren, in his third over, sent back Rohit Sharma, caught smartly by Eoin Morgan on the square leg boundary when Morgan over-balanced, tossed the ball back and caught it on the second attempt, and Kieron Pollard was caught at short third man. Ambati Rayudu was run out in the same over after a brilliant outfield effort from Balaji and in the next, the 19th over, Harbhajan Singh was run out too.
But with McLaren bowling the last over, Dinesh Karthik, who was on 24 off 15 balls, capitalised in collaboration with Mitchell Johnson.
The momentum Mumbai gained, and the impetus Kolkata lost, from that over, appeared to spill over into the second half of the match.
Not often has the Kolkata batting come good in the tournament, and it was not too different on Tuesday either. Gambhir played on to Johnson in the first over, Manvinder Bisla went not much later, and by the tenth over, four Kolkata batsmen, including Yusuf Pathan and Jacques Kallis, were back in the dugout.
The asking rate, by this time, had gone well beyond reasonable limits and by the end of 15 overs, Morgan, Debabrata Das and McLaren had also been dismissed to leave Kolkata with a mountain to climb at 92 for 7. Kolkata just didn't have it in them to climb that mountain and the result, apparent well before the end, was sealed when Lasith Malinga hit Balaji's middle stump in the 19th over.