In the increasingly intense fight for the play-offs, Mumbai Indians joined Rajasthan Royals at No. 2 hours after the latter had broken away with a win of their own. And the win came easy against the defending champions, Kolkata Knight Riders. It was the kind of win that coaches love: almost everything went to plan. They won the toss, batted first, Sachin Tendulkar and Dinesh Karthik got them a target, and their superior attack shut Knight Riders out. Only a faulty light tower and some good fielding towards the end of Mumbai’s innings posed any resistance.
It was all one-way traffic from the moment Tendulkar smacked Ryan McLaren for five successive fours, all to different areas of the ground, in the fourth over. By the time the power failure countered the Tendulkar blaze, he had reached 29 off 17 balls. Despite Dwayne Smith’s struggle to get going at the other end, Mumbai were headed in the right direction.
The lights came back on for Tendulkar to score 19 more off 11 more balls. Smith failed to reach a run a ball, but by the time they fell, Mumbai had reached 99 in the 14th over. Some good fielding – Eoin Morgan’s catch at deep midwicket, lobbing the ball up, stepping over the boundary and coming back in to complete the catch; and two run-outs – reduced Mumbai to 144 for 6 in the 19th over.
Karthik, though, kept scoring from one end. Most striking was his unsettling of Sunil Narine. He used sweeps to hit Narine off his length, and took 20 off the 11 balls he faced from Narine. Mitchell Johnson, as if to give a sample of what was to follow, smacked the last ball of the innings for a straight six.
Ten minutes later, he began swinging the ball at a high pace. An inside edge saved Manvinder Bisla first ball, and then next hit him high on the thigh pad. Two balls later, Gautam Gambhir played for the non-existent swing, and was bowled for a duck. Jacques Kallis and Bisla looked to revive the chase, but Pragyan Ojha had Bisla stumped just after the Powerplay.
Kallis soon fell to Harbhajan Singh, who had dropped him earlier. And when Eoin Morgan sliced Abu Nechim to point in the 13th over, the game was virtually over, just like Knight Riders’ campaign.
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