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Sharma's ton halts Knight Riders' winning streak

Riding on a scintillating maiden IPL-ton by Rohit Sharma, Mumbai Indians trumped Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by 27 runs in their Indian Premier League match at the Eden Gardens Saturday, ending their seven-match winning streak.

Sharma fired an unbeaten 109 (59b, 4x12,6x5) and stitched together an unbroken 106-ball 167-run second wicket partnership with veteran Herschelle Gibbs (66 not out; 58b, 4x7, 6x2) to carry the Mumbai franchise to an imposing 182/1 after electing to bat.

In reply, the Knight Riders lost two early wickets and thereafter never seemed in serious pursuit of the rival total, managing only 155/4 at the end.

Sharma fired an unbeaten 109 (59b, 4x12,6x5) . AFP

However, in spite of the loss, the Knight Riders continue to be second with 17 points from 13 outings in the league table. The Mumbai Indians, on the other hand, have moved up to the third slot with 16 points from 13 outings.

With Saturday's victory, Mumbai Indians have won seven out of eight matches against the Knight Riders.

Chasing a stiff 183-run target, Knight Riders had a disastrous start losing their skipper and the in-form Gautam Gambhir (0) in the very first over, while Pragyan Ojha got the better of Manvinder Bisla (1) off the next.

The double setback brought together Manoj Tiwary and old war horse Jacques Kallis who played sensibly trying to consolidate the innings, but coul dnot match the asking rate on a slow pitch where the ball kept low, and turned in the latter session.

Tiwary (27; 25b 4x4 0x6) had to depart in the 10th over when he was trapped in front by a Kieron Pollard delivery. Kallis (79; 60 b, 7x4, 3x6) meanwhile went about with his business executing some exquisite shots.

With 77 required of the last 5 overs, it looked increasingly difficult for the Knights who before this game had won seven matches on the trot.

With Kallis and the dangerous Yusuf Pathan (40; 31b, 2x4, 1x6) at the crease, the crowd were hoping for some fireworks but the Mumbai bowlers bowled well to contain them. With Lasith Malinga conceding just six singles of the penultimate over, it was virtually all over for the home team.

Malinga (0/27) was the most economical bowler for Mumbai while Ojha, Pollard and Patel took a wicket each.

Earlier a classy century studded with dazzling strokes by Sharma, with able support from Gibbs, powered Mumbai Indians to a daunting total.

Sharma hammered the bowlers all around the park reaching his fifty in just 29 balls and got to the magical three figures of 52 deliveries in the 17th over.

Earlier, Mumbai suffered a big jolt losing Sachin Tendulkar in the third over.

Sachin (2) who had the stadium roaring after he came out to bat, got stumped off a turner from Shakib Al Hasan. A deafening silence fell across the stadium when the giant screen flashed 'out' signalling Tendulkar's departure.

The crowd, realising it could well be one of the last appearances of the little master on the historic ground, rose in ovation as the maestro took the long walk back.

Sharma and Gibbs then was involved in a rollicking partnership that took the score past 100 in the 12th over, frustrating Gambhir's efforts to break the stand by juggling his bowlers.

The pair scored 106 runs off the last 10 overs with 50 of them coming in the last five.

IANS

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