MI vs KKR, Talking Points: Uthappa’s crawl and rare Russell duck doom KKR
Robin Uthappa looked all out of sorts while Andre Russell was dismissed for his first single-digit score of the season.

The Kolkata Knight Riders were knocked out of the IPL after they lost their final league game to the Mumbai Indians by nine wickets. As the margin reflects, it was one of those games which was heavily one-sided. KKR were just never in it, and the already-qualified MI took their chances and finished as the league table-toppers. We analyse a few talking points from the last league match of this year’s IPL.

Lynn sizzles

Barring Andre Russell, if there’s been one constant for KKR this season, it’s Chris Lynn. With 405 runs and four half-centuries, for the second straight season, Lynn has proved his worth. On Sunday, he once again breezed to a 29-ball 41, his third consecutive 40-plus score this season. Having played out the first eight balls quietly, Lynn smoked Mitchell McClenaghan for the first maximum of the night. Malinga and Bumrah weren’t spared either. Neither was legspinner Rahul Chahar, who conceded two sixes off three balls in his first over. Lynnsanity was alive and kicking, before he was foxed by a slower one from Hardik Pandya.

Uthappa fizzles

The other notable contribution for KKR came through Robin Uthappa, but his 40 came at a strike-rate of 85, off 47 balls. This is the second straight game where Uthappa’s strike-rate has raised eyebrows. In perhaps their biggest game of the season, Uthappa, who has been with KKR for almost forever, found it tough to get going. He played out a maiden in the 11th over. The ball hit nowhere near the middle of his bat and despite hitting three sixes and a boundary, Uthappa’s overall innings was a painful struggle. Uthappa crawled his way to nine off his first 21 balls and played out 25 dot balls – in a T20 knockout game of sorts. When Uthappa was dismissed, KKR’s scoring rate remained an underwhelming 6.71.

The rare Russell duck

It is no secret that Andre Russell has time and again bailed KKR out of trouble with his onslaughts during the death overs. So when Uthappa was crawling and KKR’s run-rate took a dip, Russell was once again key for the team to provide a flourish towards the end. But unfortunately for KKR, it never came. In fact, Russell endured a golden duck the final game of his most memorable IPL season. He took guard, ready to face the first ball, but it seemed as if playing the entire season with a semi-injured hand finally took its toll in the big man. Lasith Malinga sent down a wide bouncer, but next ball, bowling round the wicket, the fast bowler pitched it short. Russell, trying to evade it, feathered it to Quinton de Kock. That was it. Russell’s season had completed the full circle and he capped off the season with his first single-digit score. The faces in the KKR dug out told the story.

Pandya brothers, Malinga choke KKR

Krunal Pandya opened the bowling and kept a tight leash on KKR, giving away just 14 from his four. If Krunal applied the pressure, Hardik reaped the reward. He struck off his first ball of the match, trapping Shubman Gill leg before wicket with a slower one, and later got the big wicket of Lynn through an off cutter to finish with 2 for 30 from three overs. If young blood game to the fore, the old warhorse did not lag behind either. Lasith Malinga, in what might well be his last season with the franchise as an active cricketer, dented KKR’s middle order and finished with 3 for 35. The wickets he had to show for his efforts – dangerous Russell, KKR captain Dinesh Karthik and the plucky Nitish Rana. The efforts of Malinga and the Pandya brothers combined kept KKR to just 133 for 7.

Rohit’s love-affair with KKR continues

In one of their most clinical performances with the bat, KKR were simply outplayed by MI’s top three once again. Chasing a modest 134 to win, de Kock was one again off the blocks drilling three sixes to score a 23-ball 30 before Prasidh Krishna struck with a breakthrough after MI had knocked off 46 runs. That however, was the first and only success KKR had to show for themselves. There onward, Rohit Sharma and Suryakumar Yadav took over, and added an unbeaten 88-run stand. Rohit was in his zone, taking on his favourite opponent, taking his tally to 824 runs against KKR, the second-highest by a player against the franchise after David Warner’s 829 runs. Rohit raised his second half-century of the season off 44 balls. The luxury of batting with a moderate asking rate allowed Yadav to join in the fun. He finished on 46* off 27 with five fours and three sixes, the final blow coming off Russell and lifting MI to the top of the table.