Karn Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah, aided by pinpoint strategising, ensured Mumbai Indians thrashed Kolkata Knight Riders in the second Qualifier to proceed to the final of the Indian Premier League 2017, where they will meet Rising Pune Supergiant for the fourth time in this tournament.
After opting to field first with an eye on the dodgy Bangalore weather, which fortunately didn’t play spoilsport, Mumbai bowled out Kolkata for just 107 in 18.5 overs – their lowest total this year. Karn did the bulk of the damage in terms of wickets with 4 for 16 to his name, while Bumrah choked Kolkata with a spell of 3 for 7 from three overs, which included a wicket-maiden over.
Batting has generally been difficult on the M Chinnaswamy pitch this season but a target of 108 was never going to be enough, and Krunal Pandya’s unbeaten 45 sealed an easy six-wicket victory with 33 balls to spare.
Mumbai came in with plans for each Kolkata batsman, and more importantly, executed them to perfection. First up was the pair of Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine, who had plundered 105 runs in 37 balls the last time they opened at this ground.
Realising the importance of breaking the association early, Rohit Sharma got Bumrah to share the new ball for the first time in this IPL. He set the perfect field too – having a man at long-on to curtail Lynn’s favourite hitting area. Bumrah responded beautifully, hitting a back-of-length area and avoiding any width, and Lynn fell right into the trap when he holed out to long-on.
Narine, meanwhile, was kept quiet with a barrage of short balls from Mitchell Johnson, who replaced the injured Mitchell McClenaghan. The pressure ultimately got to Narine, who lost his patience and was stumped by miles off Karn.
The openers were dismissed but Rohit knew that the Gautam Gambhir-Robin Uthappa pair was another crucial association to be broken. He gave Bumrah the extra over within the Power Play and reaped the rewards when Uthappa was trapped leg before by a skidder, although Gambhir thought it was too high and missing leg. Gambhir’s complains to the umpire notwithstanding, Kolkata were reduced to 25 for 3 at the end of the Power Play – a stark contrast to the 105 they had scored against Royal Challengers Bangalore earlier in the same period.
With Manish Pandey sitting out injured, the onus was on Gambhir to bail them out. He had the technique and the grit to counter such pitches too, but quite surprisingly, holed out to deep midwicket trying to slog Karn across the line. And when Colin de Grandhomme failed to read a googly the very next ball, Kolkata were down and out at 31 for 5.
That they even got past 100 was down to two young domestic batsmen in Suryakumar Yadav and Ishank Jaggi, who shared a 56-run stand for the sixth wicket. The going was tough with Karn exploiting the conditions perfectly, but the duo showed the kind of application Kolkata would have wanted from the batsmen who were back in the dugout.
Jaggi, playing only his second game, was steady while Suryakumar was the busier partner and found the boundaries sweeping and driving Krunal.
When Jaggi too joined in with a couple of boundaries off Malinga, it seemed like the fightback was on. However, Mumbai wasted no time in bringing back Karn, and the stand ended when Jaggi hit one flat and straight to Johnson at long-on. The lower order didn’t bother hanging around, and Kolkata were skittled out with seven balls to spare.
Kolkata still had some fight left in them, especially when Piyush Chawla struck a couple of blows at the top. The legspinner had Lendl Simmons leg before with a slider in the second over and then bowled Ambati Rayudu with a beauty of a leg-break, and with Umesh Yadav too dismissing Parthiv Patel, Mumbai were reduced to 34 for 3.
Kolkata might have had their hopes but their shoddy batting meant it needed only one decent partnership. Rohit and Krunal provided just that and ensured their teammates weren’t going to feel any panic.
They milked Chawla and Narine to keep the scoreboard ticking, and once Kolkata’s shoulders began to drop, showed their attacking avatar. Rohit fell 20 runs away from victory but Krunal stayed unbeaten to give Mumbai their third win over Kolkata this year.
Pune, the only team Mumbai have not defeated this year, stand between them and a record third IPL title.