It was much drier and brighter on Friday evening at Bangalore during the second Qualifier of Indian Premier League 2017, after a rain-soaked Eliminator a couple of days back, but sadly for Kolkata Knight Riders, their fortunes against Mumbai Indians did not brighten and it poured a bucketful of cold water on their dreams of reaching the final and getting a chance to spar for a third IPL crown.
It was Kolkata’s 16th loss to Mumbai in the 21st encounter they have had in the IPL, and it was a resounding loss. Batting first on a Chinnaswamy pitch not conducive for stroke play, Kolkata never got going, as their batsmen failed to put their heads down and pick up ones and twos and build up a score.
This was clearly not a 200-run wicket, not even a 170-run one. A score of 140 would have been quite challenging and 160 would have been excellent. But the KKR batsmen failed to appreciate the importance of small change and instead focused predominantly on large currency only to end up bankrupt. And this has not happened for the first time this season. KKR paid the price for not learning from their mistakes.
Chris Lynn departed in the second over itself, holing out in the deep, and soon Sunil Narine, who had been a pain in the neck of opposition bowlers this season with his good old-fashioned ‘pinch-hitting’, danced down the track to Karn Sharma, only to have himself stumped. Local boy Robin Uthappa came out to a warm reception, but could contribute precious little.
KKR had scored at the highest rate among all teams in the first six (power play) overs in the group stage, but crawled to a measly 25/3 in the power play against Mumbai at the Chinnaswamy on Friday. And from then onwards, it was always going to be an uphill task for them.
It needed captain Gautam Gambhir and one other KKR batsman to stitch together a partnership and rebuild the innings. But Gambhir was soon prised out by Karn, who had a tremendous match, ending up with four wickets for 16 runs in four overs — figures that got him the Man of the Match award.
However, the Man of the Match could have gone to Jasprit Bumrah as well, who finished with an unbelievable economy rate of 2.33, conceding just seven runs from his three overs, while taking three crucial wickets – those of Lynn, Uthappa and Suryakumar Yadav. The more you see the Mumbai pacer in action, the more you are impressed by his skill and guile.
Mitchell Johnson, who has had limited opportunities this season, with the Mumbai management favouring New Zealand’s Mitchell McClenaghan over the Australian, but Johnson has done well whenever he has had the chance. And on Friday too, he came up with a handy 2/28 from his four overs, proving that he may have retired from international cricket, but still retains a lot of his venom.
Suryakumar Yadav and Ishank Jaggi tried to put up a semblance of a fight, but to no avail, as the KKR innings folded up for an abysmal 107.
It was always going to be an easy chase for Mumbai, given the powerhouse of a batting line-up they have. The only way KKR could even have dreamt of winning was to bowl out Mumbai.
Gambhir’s boys tried to stage a fightback and sent three rival batsmen back to the pavilion inside the first six overs, but then Rohit Sharma and Krunal Pandya got together and ensured there were no mishaps for Mumbai, as they sauntered into the final, laying the Knight Riders to waste.
Rohit and Krunal put together a 50-plus stand and Rohit showed exactly how batting is to be done on a difficult pitch as the one at Chinnaswamy. His innings of 26 off 24 balls had just one hit to the fence and another over it, but it was priceless in the context of the match, and gave Krunal the licence to tonk a few.
With this win, Mumbai are off to Hyderabad to play Rising Pune Supergiant, a team that has lost only once ever in the IPL to Mumbai in five meetings, and has notched up a hat-trick of victories this season. Kolkata, though, have faltered at the business end after starting the tournament strongly, and now must wait for another year for a chance to win their third IPL crown.
Perhaps KKR could have done better had they won the toss and chased, but still their application left a lot to be desired. Mumbai, however, deserve to be in the final, having been the most dominant team in the group stage. Unlike Gujarat Lions last year, they ensured that a freak off day in the play-offs, as the one against Pune last Tuesday, did not undo all the hard work they have put in.
Kolkata could not get the better of their bugbear on Friday; can Mumbai get the better of theirs come 21 May? The country waits in anticipation as all roads lead to Hyderabad’s Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium for the grand finale of IPL 2017.
Updated Date: May 20, 2017 10:22 AM