MI defeat KKR for fourth win

Make that two in a row!

Hardik Pandya produced a fine all-round performance (35* & 2/19) as Mumbai Indians beat Kolkata Knight Riders by 13 runs at Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. The win was our fourth in 10 matches and second on the trot. We now have eight points and continue to be in fifth position with four games to go.

Put into bat, MI finished with 181/4 thanks to a 91-run stand between openers Suryakumar Yadav and Evin Lewis, and a fine cameo by Hardik. KKR were in the hunt all along thanks to an 84-run stand between Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana. But once the duo fell in the space of an over, KKR stuttered. And MI’s death bowling was top-notch. The win boosted our head-to-head record against KKR to 17-5. It also stretched our win streak against the Men in Purple and Gold to seven matches.

Hardik bowled a brilliant 18th over, conceding just six runs, thereby leaving KKR to get 37 off 12 balls. Dinesh Karthik raised hopes in the rival dugout by hitting a six and two fours off Jasprit Bumrah in the 19th over but Krunal Pandya did a good job by giving away just nine runs besides removing Sunil Narine — batting at No. 7 — in the final over. Krunal had 23 runs to play with. He gave a boundary off the first ball but kept his cool in the remainder of the over to take us home. KKR skipper Karthik was stranded on 36.

With 54 to get off 24, Bumrah struck gold by removing Andre Russell. Bumrah would have been happy to let Krunal have the wicket because it was he who ran from short fine-leg to square-leg to pull off a brilliant catch to send the Jamaican back for just nine. Bumrah gave away fours off the last two balls as the equation came down to 43 off 18.

KKR were left needing 64 off 36 balls, and Mitchell McClenaghan and Mayank Markande bowled tight overs giving away just 10 in all.

Uthappa and Rana fell in the space of an over after adding 84 for the third wicket in 9.2 overs. Uthappa scored a fantastic 54 off 35 and his knock was studded with six fours and three sixes. The highlight of his innings was his free-spirited batting against Ben Cutting who he hit for four consecutive boundaries in the 12th over. Uthappa also hit Markande for two back-to-back sixes — one down the ground and the other over deep midwicket — to become only the sixth batsman to complete 4,000 runs in Vivo IPL history. The half-century was also his first of the season.

A few overs prior to this assault, Markande had dropped a sitter at mid-on off Hardik’s bowling. Uthappa was on four then. Markande sort of made up for his fumble by getting Uthappa to eventually hole out. Rana fell soon after, giving Hardik his 14th wicket of the season. That scalp also put him ahead in the race for the Purple Cap. Markande is in second spot with 13 scalps.

Chris Lynn got KKR off to a flier with a flurry of boundaries but the visiting side lost him and Under-19 hero Shubman Gill inside four overs. McClenaghan bowled a tidy first over that cost only two. Lynn hit Bumrah for consecutive fours in the second over before McClenaghan gave away three more in the next. The Kiwi persisted with his ploy of bowling the occasional short ball and had Lynn caught in the deep for 17 off 13. Fresh off his match-winning knock in the previous game against Chennai Super Kings, Gill couldn’t make the most of his promotion in place of regular opener Narine. The Under-19 hero fell to Hardik for just seven as KKR lost two wickets in the space of three balls.

Earlier, Yadav helped himself to yet another fifty — his fourth of the season — as MI finished with 181/4. Yadav added 91 runs in the company of Lewis, who rediscovered his touch with a buccaneering 43 off just 28 balls. We then slowed down in the middle overs because of a two-wicket burst from Russell before Hardik played a cameo to help the team cross the 180-run barrier.

MI, who were put into bat, made only eight in the first two overs bowled by part-time off-spinner Rana and debutant Prasidh Krishna. Yadav then broke the shackles with a six over square-leg in the third over bowled by Mitchell Johnson. Yadav followed that up with a couple of fours as the Aussie went for 15.

Lewis welcomed fellow Trinidadian Narine with boundaries on either side of the wicket before pulling Krishna for a six in the fifth over. Piyush Chawla started the final over of the Powerplay with a full-toss, which Lewis duly dispatched into the top tier beyond mid-wicket. Chawla followed it up with a googly but Lewis spotted it quickly and hit it to extra cover for four. That shot also brought up the 50-run stand, the duo’s third of the season. Chawla got the outside edge off the third delivery but even that went for four. And, all of a sudden, Lewis went from 10 off nine at the end of the fourth over to 32 off 18 at the end of the sixth.

Soon after the timeout, we were in for ‘Yadav vs Yadav’. Suryakumar put his nimble feet to good use by smashing Kuldeep over wide long-on for his second six of the afternoon. Rana, who conceded a solitary run in the opening over, went for 16 in his second, including three fours. The highlight of the over was the return catch Lewis offered Rana. However, the ball travelled so fast there was no way Rana could hold on to the offering.

With both openers in their 40s and no respite in sight, Karthik introduced Russell into the attack. The Jamaican struck immediately with a back-of-the-hand slower one. Lewis could only slice it to Lynn at the third-man boundary. MI were 95/1 at the halfway stage with skipper Sharma joining Yadav in the middle.

Sharma got going with a delightful cover drive off Chawla but holed out in the next over for a run-a-ball 11. Yadav, who got to his half-century with a single, played an inside-out shot off Chawla for his seventh four of the day. In the same over, new man Hardik wowed the packed house with a one-handed six quite reminiscent of the one Sharma hit against CSK in Pune.

The scorching heat eventually got to Yadav and he slowed down before edging Russell to the wicketkeeper for a well-made 59 off 39 balls. Yadav now has 399 runs this season and continues to be in the race for the Orange Cap.

That dismissal brought the Pandya brothers together. Krunal got off the mark with a pull shot that found the mid-wicket fence. Hardik followed that up with consecutive fours in Krishna’s next. The second of those boundaries was just cheeky. Krishna bowled one outside the off-stump and Hardik walked across, took his eye off the ball but still managed to paddle it over his shoulder.

We scored only 37 runs for two wickets between the 11th and 15th overs. The last five overs were marginally better as they yielded 49 for the loss of Krunal. The left-hander hit Narine for a six over long-on but perished on the next ball when he attempted a similar shot. He made 14 off 11. Johnson bowled two wides in the 18th but gave away just eight runs. JP Duminy got the penultimate over off to a positive note with a big six on the leg-side but he also ate up a few dots to finish with 13 off 11.

Karthik surprised one and all by asking Krishna to bowl the final over. The youngster bowled well but gave away two boundaries — both off edges — to finish with figures of 0/39 in four overs. Russell (2/19) was the pick of the bowlers with Narine getting 2/35. MI reached the 50-run mark in 32 balls. The second fifty came off 31 balls and third took 37. The last five overs saw our batsmen hit only four fours and two sixes.

MI will now travel to Kolkata for the return leg fixture on Wednesday, May 9.

Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 181/4 in 20 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 59, Evin Lewis 43, Hardik Pandya 35*; Sunil Narine 2/35, Andre Russell 2/12) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 168/6 in 20 overs (Robin Uthappa 54, Nitish Rana 31, Dinesh Karthik 36*; Mitchell McClenaghan 1/30, Jasprit Bumrah 1/34, Hardik Pandya 2/19, Krunal Pandya 1/29, Mayank Markande 1/25) by 13 runs.