In what turned out to possibly be the dullest affair of this year’s IPL, Mumbai Indians (MI) recorded their 21st IPL win over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) by a comprehensive 8-wicket margin with 3.1 overs to spare and climbed to the top of the points table once again.
KKR, batting first, got off to an extremely slow start, as Rahul Tripathi, brought back up the order to open, fell to a stunning reflex grab by Suryakumar Yadav at point off Boult in the 3rd over. Shubman Gill and Nitish Rana found the going tough against the Mumbai Indians pace attack, which had Nathan Coulter-Nile in place of James Pattinson today. Coulter-Nile struck in his second over with a short delivery that strangled Rana and glanced his glove on the way through to Quinton de Kock’s mitts.
The strangulating spells from the Mumbai Indians in the powerplay left KKR with 33 on the board in the first six. Gill and Karthik then fell in successive deliveries to Rahul Chahar; Gill holing out to the large frame of Pollard at long-on and Karthik playing on trying to shakily paddle-sweep. Andre Russell and Eoin Morgan did provide some entertainment in the middle-overs, but it was very, very short-lived. Jasprit Bumrah was brought back into the attack to take care of Russell, and he did just that.
Bumrah gave absolutely no room to the Jamaican in the four balls that he bowled, mixing up his length and saving his best delivery for the fourth ball of the over. Bumrah bowled a short one which emphatically climbed on Russell, leaving him no choice but to sway away leaving his bat in the line of the ball, resulting in the ball ballooning up after hitting the bat and de Kock making no mistake.
Eoin Morgan and Pat Cummins then batted out the remaining few overs, taking KKR to a score of 148. Cummins, batting at 7, made a major impression with the bat once again, scoring his maiden IPL half-century with a boundary off the last over. Morgan, though, struggled to clear those boundaries throughout the innings, but he did strike a couple over the ropes in the last over, which meant that the KKR bowlers had something to defend.
Unfortunately, the game was lost for KKR within the first five overs of the chase. The only highlight point for KKR in those five overs was Prasidh Krishna almost finding the outside edge of Rohit Sharma off his first delivery with a sharp outswinger, only to drop short next ball and allowing Rohit to ease all the pressure and play his favourite pull shot, followed by an overcompensated fuller length delivery, both of which travelled to the fence. De Kock was served width two balls later, which was sent to the point boundary.
De Kock and Rohit brought the asking rate down to almost 6 within the 7th over itself with a flurry of hits to the fence and a maximum by de Kock. Varun Chakravarthy then bowled an economical first over, but the following over from Russell saw de Kock hooking a harmless short delivery over the long-leg boundary to bring up his fifty. KKR finally managed to break through with 55 runs remaining off the last 9 and a half overs; Shivam Mavi bowling a ball identical to the one Krishna bowled early on to beat Rohit, but this time, the MI captain ended up edging behind to Karthik.
Chakravarthy then was rewarded with Suryakumar’s wicket in his last over – Suryakumar looked to sweep the mystery spinner but managed a thick inside edge which knocked his off-stump out. The arrival of Hardik Pandya to the crease ensured that MI got past the line in quick time, with the all-rounder smashing a couple of boundaries and a six off Pat Cummins, and in the next over, cutting Chris Green to the backward point fence and picking a single to long-off to seal the deal.
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Karthik being promoted up the order yet again
It has been said several times before and it needs to be said again, Dinesh Karthik plays his most defining limited-overs knocks when he has fewer balls to face in an innings. It is not at all that he hasn’t played significant knocks in any format batting higher up the order, but the past few years have seen a change in his batsmanship in which he plays his best Cricket when there is a particular target to achieve or his side desperately needs a good finish to the innings. The latest example of such was the game against KXIP a few days ago, in which Karthik walked in with KKR desperately needing someone to play a quickfire innings to get them to a good score. Karthik’s half-century off 29 balls helped KKR post a total of 164, which was just enough for them to emerge winners in that contest.
However, Karthik, having relinquished the captaincy responsibilities ahead of today’s game, was sent out by the KKR management ahead of Morgan and Russell once again. He did try to settle in, but was never looking too comfortable in building an innings. He proceeded to try playing his shots, which resulted in him being cleaned up by Rahul Chahar.
Andre Russell’s weakness being thoroughly exploited by Jasprit Bumrah
It is a known fact that Andre Russell requires a hint of room against pacers to exert his muscle-power and clear the boundaries. But, if the pace is good enough to cut the room down for the Jamaican, then teams stand a good chance of keeping him subdued. For that, the requirement of a pacer who can clock serious pace is necessary. Mumbai Indians have had one such pacer in Jasprit Bumrah for a long period of time now.
As soon as Russell looked to threaten, MI captain wasted no time in bringing his strike bowler back into the attack for a one-over spell. Bumrah has had a formidable record against Russell, having dismissed him twice in 5 innings before today. He stuck to the plan of bowling close to Russell’s body, which the Jamaican was clearly not comfortable with. He did smash a boundary past point by backing away, but two balls later, Bumrah produced an unplayable bouncer to which Russell had no answer. He tried his best to get out of the way of the ball, but he left his bat hanging, and the ball ricocheted off it and settled in the hands of Quinton de Kock.
Not giving the new ball to Prasidh Krishna and Shivam Mavi
Apparently, Chris Green was brought in as a like-for-like replacement of Suni Narine, who had opened the bowling for KKR on several occasions in the past. With the amount of swing that was briefly on show today, maybe KKR could have ditched the plan of opening the bowling with an off-spinner for once and given the likes of Shivam Mavi and Prasidh Krishna a go with the new ball? Krishna and Mavi did produce two outstanding deliveries against Rohit Sharma that perfectly shaped away from the opener, but Mavi got to do so far too late in the game, and Krishna ended up bowling several looseners in his following few deliveries after producing the jaffa in the third over, helping Rohit in easing in.