Mumbai: In a low-scoring match that didn’t quite turn out to be the thriller that many anticipated it to be, Kolkata Knight Riders comprehensively beat Mumbai Indians in their backyard after Gautam Gambhir, the captain, took the brave step of packing his side with spinners. Mumbai opted for a pace-heavy attack, and Kolkata’s gambit paid off handsomely as they won by 32 runs.
Sunil Narine, with 4 for 15, was the undoubted star, first summoning up a ripper that went through the defence of a well-set Sachin Tendulkar, and returning at the death to pick up three wickets – including Rohit Sharma – off his final seven deliveries to seal the win.
The superb bowling followed a batting effort in which Kolkata never got much momentum. Brendon McCullum got a poor decision, adjudged lbw to RP Singh while a yard out of his crease. There was no doubt about the next wicket though, as RP castled Jacques Kallis the next ball with the perfect incutter that found off stump through the bat-pad gap. That double whammy set the tone for the rest of the innings.
Gambhir was the third man to fall, going for 27 off 23, leaving Kolkata at 44 for 3 in the ninth over. Manoj Tiwary and Yusuf Pathan couldn’t dominate, but they did hang in and added valuable runs. Shakib Al Hasan also played his part in building a stand with Tiwary, and eventually Kolkata ended with 140 for 7 – competitive on a pitch that wasn’t a batsman’s paradise.
Just as they had while bowling, Mumbai enjoyed a slice of luck at the start of their batting innings too. Tendulkar was rapped on the pads off the first ball he faced and adjudged not out, with Shakib the unfortunate bowler. After that blip, he looked comfortable at the crease, but Kolkata’s bowlers did a brilliant job of tying up the other end.
However, at 59 for 1 in 10 overs, Mumbai still looked on course for victory. That was when Narine removed Tendulkar, and from 60 for 1 in the 11th over, Mumbai collapsed. Dinesh Karthik and Ambati Rayudu followed quickly, and when Kallis got Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Smith off successive deliveries in the 17th over, the pendulum had swung the away side’s way. Unlike in previous games, there were no last-gasp heroics for Mumbai, with the impressive Narine returning to wrap things up. He now has the purple cap, with Kolkata all but assured of a place in the play-offs.