Mumbai: Chasing an uphill target of 171, Kolkata Knight Riders surrendered meekly to Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede stadium on Tuesday losing the tie by 65 runs to bow out of IPL 6 play-off race, effectively ending their title defence.
With the tournament fast approaching its business end, it was must win match for Kolkata, but an opening stand of 93 runs between Sachin Tendulkar (48) and Dwayne Smith (47) helped Mumbai post a daunting 170 runs after which a disciplined bowling attack by the hosts led by Harbhajan Singh (3 for 27) bundled out KKR for 105 runs in 18.2 overs.
The win took Mumbai to second on points tally with 16 points from 12 matches while Kolkata remained in seventh spot with eight points from 12 matches.
With 171 to win, Kolkata had a terrible start to the chase losing captain Gautam Gambhir in the second ball of the first over for duck. Mitchell Johnson continuing his terrific form with the ball to dismiss Gambhir off an inside edge on to the stumps playing for a non-existent swing. Jacques Kallis and Manvinder Bisla then took the attack to the bowlers with the former clubbing a four and a six of Abu Nechim. But, Pragyan Ojha broke the threatening 37-run partnership scalping Bisla for 17 as Dinesh Karrthik took a good catch behind the stumps. Yusuf Pathan looked dangerous by tonking one over midwicket for a massive six off the second ball he faced, but Ojha sent the big man packing as well in the 9th over for 13.
KKR went downhill from there on with the asking rate climbing exponentially, batsmen tried to up the ante going for the big shots perishing one by one. Kallis was holed out at long-off for 24 in the 10th over off Harbhajan followed by Eoin Morgan (5) in the 13th over. Harbhajan then picked up Debabrata Das for 23 and finished off his spell with the wicket of Rajat Bhatia.
Iqbal Abdulla and Sunil Narine dabbed around for a while only to prolong the inevitable as Johnson dismissed Narine for 3 and Malinga wrapped up the proceeding with a slower yorker cleaning up L Balaji for 0 in the 19th over.
Earlier, after Balaji started off the proceeding with a maiden to Dwayne Smith, Mumbai took off with Sachin Tendulkar hitting Ryan McLaren for five consecutive boundaries in the fourth over. He cleared mid-off to get the first four in the second ball of the over then pulled one to midwicket followed by one over mid-on and a punch towards third man. He finished off the over edging a short of length delivery over the keepers' head. While Smith was struggling in the middle, Tendulkar took on the aggressor's role with Mumbai reaching fifty in the seventh over.
The West Indian broke the shackles with two back-to-back boundaries off Abdulla in the ninth over as the openers set about building a strong platform for a big total. Tendulkar looked in sublime touch and employed the cheeky paddle sweeps to great effect and building up the momentum. Even after a slight delay due to floodlight issues, Tendulkar and Smith looked unfazed until Rajat Bhatia sent back Tendulkar for 48 in the 13th over. Tendulkar tried to sweep one to the leg side but ended up playing it around his legs. Smith departed in the next over getting holed out at long-on off Abdulla for 47.
The openers' wicket opened the floodgates for KKR as they fought back well taking three quick wickets of Rohit Sharma (16), Kieron Pollard (4) and Ambati Rayudu (0). Sharma who had been among the runs in recent matches was holed out at deep square courtesy a smart catch by Eoin Morgan in the 18th over. Pollard too departed cheaply in the same over with McLaren taking two wickets in one over. Balaji's accurate throw from the deep backward point resulted in Rayudu's run-out without facing a ball.
Karthik though stayed true to his IPL 6 form propelling Mumbai's score in the death overs scoring an unbeaten 34 off 18 balls. Karthik hit Narine for two boundaries towards third man in the 19th over and then clobbered a four and six off the last over which yielded 25 runs bowled by McLaren to take the hosts score to 170 for 6 in 20 overs which eventually proved too much for Kolkata.