Kolkata Knight Riders put one foot in IPL 5 playoffs with a 32-run win over Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday. It was their ninth win in 15 matches and took them to the second spot in the table ahead of Mumbai, who despite the loss can advance to the next stage if they win their last game against Rajasthan Royals on May 20.
Chasing 141 to win, Mumbai openers Herschelle Gibbs and Sachin Tendulkar got off to a very slow start before the former was sent back by Iqbal Abdulla for 13 in the sixth over with only 26 runs on the board. Karthik joined Tendulkar but the scoring rate remained a concern with both scoffing a lot of balls.
Tendulkar however played a few delightful strokes during his innings of 27 off 24 balls, one upper cut in particular that sailed over the wicketkeeper’s head for a six. Just when he was getting ready to cut loose, West Indian spinner Sunil Narine cleaned him up in the 11th over with an unplayable off-break. Karthik (21 off 26 balls) followed suit two overs later with just 66 runs on the board. Last-match hero Ambati Rayudu took on an aggressive approach straight away with the required run-rate creeping up but he could not contribute much and fell for 11.
Jacques Kallis turned the match absolutely in Kolkata’s favour with back-to-back wickets of the dangerous Kieron Pollard (8) and Dwayne Smith (0) in the 17th over - the hosts still needing 44 to win. Narine soon disposed of Harbhajan Singh and Rohit Sharma to put them out of the contest. Last year's runners-up folded for 108 in the 20th over with Narine returning with figures of 4 for 15.
Earlier, after being put into bat, KKR started their innings on the wrong foot with Brendon McCullum (1) and Kallis (0) back in the hut inside two overs. RP Singh accounted for both batsmen on back-to-back deliveries in the second over of the innings. The Kiwi was trapped lbw, while the South African allrounder was bowled neck and crop. Gambhir (27) kept on playing some good shots at the other end but was out before long, with Pollard getting through his defences with only 44 runs on the board.
Manoj Tiwary and Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan then began the repair work and added 45 runs for the fourth wicket to bring some semblance of normalcy to the Kolkata innings. Tiwary did the bulk of the scoring in the partnership, but the hosts gained the upper hand again with the departure of both batsmen in the space of five balls. Smith cleaned up Shakib for 13, while Tiwary holed out to Lasith Malinga off the bowling of Munaf Patel after scoring 41.
Next batsman Debabrata Das did his team no good as he ran himself out for 2. Yusuf Pathan remained unbeaten on 21 and with his 29-run stand with Rajat Bhatia (12), he ensured the visitors got to a fighting 140 for 7 on a pitch conducive to spinners.