Mumbai Indians

Mumbai Indians thumped the Kolkata Knight Riders by 65 runs at the Wankhede Stadium © IANS (File Photo)

By Jaideep Vaidya
 
Mumbai: May 7, 2013
 
Mumbai Indians have all but knocked the Kolkata Knight Riders out of contention for the playoffs of the Indian Premier League (IPL) after a thumping 65-run win at the Wankhede Stadium on Tuesday. Doing so, Mumbai displaced Rajasthan Royals from second spot in the points table.
 
Set a target of 171, Kolkata lost wickets at regular intervals and were bowled out for just 105. The defending champions have just eight points from 12 matches, with four more to go, and only a miracle would now see them through provided they win all their remaining games.
 
Skipper Gautam Gambhir was bowled by Mitchell Johnson for a duck in the very first over to rock the visitors, before Manvinder Bisla and Jacques Kallis steadied the innings for a while. However, in the seventh over, Pragyan Ojha had Bisla stumped and the wicket sparked a collapse as KKR failed to find their bearings from there.
 
After Kallis (24) fell at 58 for four at the halfway stage, the mountain already seemed too steep a climb for KKR, and when Rohit Sharma took a sharp catch point to dismiss the ever-reliable Eoin Morgan (5) to make it 77 for five, MI were firmly in pole position.
 
In the end, Mumbai humiliated the defending champions and skipped over Rajasthan and Bangalore in the points table on net run-rate. Harbhajan Singh was the pick of the Mumbai bowlers, picking up three for 27, while Mitchell Johnson and Pragyan Ojha got a brace each.
 
Earlier, Mumbai posted a competitive total of 170 for six thanks to some inspired batting on either side of a mid-innings collapse.

Openers Dwayne Smith (47) and Sachin Tendulkar (48) got MI off to a great start, scoring 63 runs in the first nine overs. Tendulkar was desperately in need of runs, after having struggled his way to 186 in 11 matches and was under pressure for keeping his place in the eleven. The veteran batsman had looked out of place in this instant cricket format and it appeared as if he wasn’t able to keep up with the demands.
 
However, Tendulkar stated his intent almost straight away today as he spanked the returning Ryan McLaren for five consecutive boundaries in his first over, sprayed all around the park. Tendulkar brought forth all the shots from his illustrious book — the drives, the pulls, the paddle sweeps, you name it — as he put Mumbai off to a flier. Smith, on the other hand, was struggling to connect bat with ball and rode on his experienced partner’s back upto the first Strategic Timeout, taken gladly by KKR after the ninth over.
 
The mandatory timeouts have claimed many a set batsman in this tournament, and KKR would have hoped for the same in their huddle. As it turned out, the two-and-a-half minute break in momentum for Mumbai was to stretch a further 17 minutes as a couple of floodlight towers at the Wankhede lost power.
 
After the break, the two Mumbai batsmen added a further 30 runs in quick time before Tendulkar’s over-enthusiasm claimed his wicket. The Little Master tried a cheeky little paddle sweep after shuffling across the stumps off the bowling of medium-pacer Rajat Bhatia — a shot that had earned him four runs earlier in the over — but missed the turn and was bowled. A morale-boosting innings of 48 from 28 balls had come to an end, along with a promising partnership of 93. Smith was to follow his partner back to the pavilion soon after, as he holed out to long-on in the very next over.
 
Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma, among the top-five leading run-scorers in the tournament, hit a boundary and a six, before a nonchalant, yet superb, piece of fielding from Eoin Morgan sent him packing. Rohit clubbed McLaren towards deep mid-wicket where Morgan converged under the ball and caught it inches from the rope, lost his balance but coolly flicked the ball up in the air before stepping behind the rope and returned to take the catch. The Irishman made it look simple, but it was anything but, as MI slipped further down.

A few minutes of madness were to follow for Mumbai as Kieron Pollard (4), Ambati Rayudu (0) and Harbhajan Singh (0) all fell within the space of five balls, and all of a sudden the hosts were on the brink of a dramatic collapse.

However, Dinesh Karthik (34 not out) and Mitchell Johnson (10 not out) held fort till the end, putting on 25 runs in the last over to take Mumbai to a challenging total.
 
Brief scores:

Mumbai Indians 170 for 6 in 20 overs (Sachin Tendulkar 48, Dwayne Smith 47; Ryan McLaren 2 for 60) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 105 in 18.2 overs (Jacques Kallis 24; Harbhajan Singh 3 for 27, Mitchell Johnson 2 for 13, Pragyan Ojha 2 for 23) by 65 runs.

Man of the Match: Sachin Tendulkar

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(Jaideep Vaidya is a multiple sports buff and a writer at CricketCountry. He has a B.E. in Electronics Engineering, but that isn’t fooling anybody. He started writing on sports during his engineering course and fell in love with it. The best day of his life came on April 24, 1998, when he witnessed birthday boy Sachin Tendulkar pummel a Shane Warne-speared Aussie attack from the stands during the Sharjah Cup Final. A diehard Manchester United fan, you can follow him on Twitter @jaideepvaidya. He also writes a sports blog – The Mullygrubber )