By Suhas Nayse – SJFI Member
Its High Fives for Mumbai Indians as the defending champions recorded fifth win on the trot by drubbing Kolkata Knight Riders in the Dream11 Indian Premier League at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Friday. Chasing a modest target of 149, four-time champions Mumbai Indians crossed the finish-line with 19 balls to spare to register a thumping eight-wicket victory.
With the fifth win in succession, Mumbai Indians now have 6 wins in 8 games. The holders also reclaimed the top spot on the points table. Both Mumbai Indians and Delhi Capitals have 12 points each to their credit but on the basis of better net run-rate, Rohit Sharma-led side is on the top of the table. KKR are at the fourth spot with eight points from as many games.
Opener Quinton De Kock was the star of the show for Mumbai Indians in the chase as the aggressive southpaw walloped a spectacular 78 not out off just 44 balls. The 27-year-old South African’s innings was laced with nine fours and three sixes to return with an impressive strike rate of 177.27.
The Johannesburg-born cricketer milked the KKR bowling to log his highest score of the season. By scoring a second consecutive half-century he also earned back-to-back man-of-the-match awards.
De Kock and Rohit Sharma were in total command as they piled up 94 runs for the first wicket. The opening wicket partnership in 10.3 overs more or less sealed the win for MI. Rohit was caught at the wicket by Dinesh Karthik off Shivam Mavi after scoring run-a-ball 35 (5×4, 1×6).
Hardik Pandya, who was dismissed for nought on his birthday in the previous match against Delhi Capitals on October 11, made up for the missed opportunity in the last game with a brisk 21 not out off 11 balls. He hit 3 fours and a six.
“We weren’t in the race at all really, being four or five down. Managed to get a score on the board but when Mumbai are like that, they are hard to stop. Full credit to Mumbai, they played well. We have lessons to learn,” said a disappointed Eoin Morgan after the match.
Earlier, bowling all-rounder Pat Cummins struck an unbeaten 36-ball 53 to lift Kolkata Knight Riders from a precarious situation to a respectable-looking 148 for 5. Opting to bat, the front-line batsmen of Kolkata Knight Riders completely flopped. However, after a top-order failure, it was Cummins (53 not out: 36 balls, 5×4, 2×6) and new skipper Eoin Morgan (39 not out: 29 balls, 2×4; 2×6), who rescued their side. The left-right combination of Morgan and Cummings conjured 87 runs for the unbroken sixth wicket to somewhat pull the team out of big trouble.
The decision to make first use of the wicket by new skipper Morgan backfired. Kolkata Knight Riders lost opener Rahul Tripathi (7) early. The Pune-based cricketer was dismissed by an acrobatic catch by Suryakumar Yadav at point off Trent Boult.
Young leg-spinner Rahul Chahar struck twice in the eight over as he removed the in-form opener Shubham Gill (21) and former skipper Dinesh Karthik (4) off successive balls to reduce KKR to 42 for 4. Two-time former champions KKR lost half of their side for 61 as Andre Russell departed for 12.
Cummins smashed Nathan Coulter-Nile for two fours and a six in the 13th over, which fetched KKR 16 runs and then made optimum use of a life he got. De Kock dropped a sitter off Bumrah. Cummins and Morgan added 53 in the last five overs. The duo was particularly brutal against Coulter-Nile, who conceded 51 in his 4 overs.
After the humiliating loss against RCB in the previous tie, regular skipper Dinesh Karthik opted to hand the captain’s role to England’s Eoin Morgan, who led his country to a triumph in the 2019 ODI World Cup.
On Saturday there will be another double-decker. In the afternoon match, Royal Challengers Bangalore will clash with Rajasthan Royals at Dubai, while later in the evening Delhi Capitals will square off against Chennai Super Kings at Sharjah.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 148 for 5 in 20 overs (Pat Cummins 53 not out, Eoin Morgan 39 not out, Shubman Gill 21, Andre Russel 12; Rahul Chahar 2-18, Jasprit Bumrah 1-22, Trent Boult 1-32, Nathan Coulter-Nile 1-51) lost to Mumbai Indians 149 for 2 in 16.5 overs (Quinton de Kock 78 not out, Rohit Sharma 35, Hardik Pandya 21 not out, Suryakumar Yadav 10; Varun Chakravarthy 1-23, Shivam Mavi 1-24) by 8 wickets. Man-of-the-match: Quinton de Kock (MI).