Kolkata: The fans that thronged to Eden Gardens on Wednesday hoping to see a special innings from Sachin Tendulkar on his 40th birthday were sent home disappointed doubly disappointed, as the master batsman flopped and Kolkata Knight Riders were beaten in another last-over match. Set a target of 160, Mumbai won with five wickets off the penultimate delivery thanks to Dwayne Smith's bullish 62 and two stabilizing innings from stand-in captain Rohit Sharma and allrounder Kieron Pollard.
Having opted to bat, Kolkata took 26 off the first over but managed just 133 in the next 19. Their innings unraveled after a busy start, and even though they crossed the average first-innings score of 148 at Eden Gardens they did not have the bowling firepower to stop Mumbai from increasing their overall record against them to 9-2.
The match was delayed by 30 minutes due to pre-match showers, after which Gautam Gambhir had no hesitation in choosing what to do. The gamble to again open with an out-of-form Yusuf Pathan threatened to prove a masterstroke when 26 came off the first over bowled by Harbajan Singh. Yusuf edged the first ball past slip for four, swept the second and third through square, then heaved six over long-on. The fifth ball was a no-ball, and Gambhir heaved the free hit for six.
But 19 off six balls was as much damage as Yusuf could do, for he steered Mitchell Johnson's first legal delivery straight to Harbhajan at first slip. Having hurried to 21 in nine balls with a slap over midwicket off Pragyan Ojha's first delivery, Gambhir slowed to 26 off 19 before charging out and miscuing the left-arm spinner to Harbhajan at cover. Ojha should have had Jacques Kallis on 22 when the batsman drove a tossed up delivery over the infield, but Johnson dropped a catch at wide long-off, and let four go. The drop cost 15 runs, and Ojha eventually had Kallis caught by Rohit at cover. By this stage the run rate had dipped to under eight.
Some innovativeness from Eoin Morgan lifted the mood of the home fans - he reverse-swept boundaries twice in three balls - but Lasith Malinga bowled a superb final over, conceding just three singles and clean bowling Manoj Tiwary (33) and Debabrata Das (6).
Mumbai's chase started on a slow note. By the time Tendulkar came on strike 2.3 overs had passed, with Smith scoring 7 off 15 balls. And fans expecting a bumper innings from the 40-year-old were instead left to see Sunil Narine take out Tendulkar's middle stump for 2. Smith made up for his sedate start (8 off 18 balls) by striking four sixes to reach a half-century in 34 balls, but KKR were given another boost when Sachitra Senanayake won a dubious lbw appeal against Dinesh Karthik. Smith collected a fifth sixth before he miscued Narine to the deep looking to hit another maximum, which left Mumbai needing 78 from 54 balls.
Smith's bullish fifty had ensured Mumbai's remaining batsmen did not need to do anything drastic. Rohit counter-punched with a pair of sixes off Senanayake to wrest back any lost momentum and with Pollard whittled the equation to 36 from four overs at the end of the last strategic time-out. One of those was from Narine, who finished his excellent spell by producing a caught-and-bowled from Rohit (34) with his final delivery.
True to IPL form, there was another twist ahead. Pollard nonchalantly lofted Senanayake into the stands to help reduce the target to 10 off six, only to fall to Rajat Bhatia to make it 10 off five. Harbhajan swung his first ball over midwicket for six, jogged a single next ball and left the winning runs to Ambati Rayudu.