Cricket News | Updated: May 5, 2019, 11:55 PM IST :
An inspired bowling performance by Lasith Malinga backed up by a fine half-century from Rohit Sharma crushed Kolkata Knight Riders’ dreams of making it to the playoffs as Mumbai Indians registered an easy nine-wicket win to finish the group stage ranked No.1. One side’s sorrow became another side’s joy with Mumbai’s win also meaning Sunrisers Hyderabad became the fourth team to qualify for the playoffs.
Both Hyderabad and Kolkata finished with 12 points each but a superior net run-rate saw the Kane Williamson-led side enter the qualifiers. Mumbai will play second-ranked Chennai in Qualifier 1 while Hyderabad will face Delhi Chargers in the Eliminator.
Malinga was at his lethal best returning figures of 3/35 that helped restrict Kolkata to a below-par 133/7. The target was never really going to worry Mumbai and the hosts led by Rohit’s 55* and Suryakumar Yadav’s 46* romped home in 16.1 overs.
Sent into bat on a sluggish Wankhede surface, Kolkata started off slowly but Chris Lynn soon upped the ante with a six over mid-wicket against Mitchell McClenaghan. While Shubman Gill struggled, Lynn carried on his merry ways first thumping Malinga for a four and six and then carting leg-spinner Rahul Chahar into the stands twice over.
Kolkata raced to 49/0 in the first six overs but lost their way immediately after the field restrictions were relaxed. Hardik Pandya struck with the very first ball of his spell trapping Gill right in front of the stumps for a 16-ball 9 and in his next over got rid of Lynn as well for 41.
It was rather painful viewing for the next few overs for a Kolkata fan as Robin Uthappa and Dinesh Karthik failed to give any momentum to the innings. Malinga finally put Karthik out of his misery for 3 (9) but the biggest wicket of the night undoubtedly came in the next legal delivery when the Sri Lankan got rid of Andre Russell for a golden duck with a searing bouncer.
The scoreboard reading a sorry 73/4 after 13 overs, Uthappa who was at one point of time on 9 off 21 balls finally broke the shackles with a four and a six off Bumrah. Nitish Rana, coming in at No. 6 tried his best to restore some parity to proceedings. He creamed three sixes during his stay at the crease before becoming Malinga’s third victim for a 13-ball 26.
The final flourish so desperately needed by Kolkata, never arrived as they huffed and puffed their way through the final few overs. Uthappa (40) struck a four and three sixes during his knock but still could only manage a strike of 85.10. For Mumbai, Malinga was the pick of the bowlers while Jasprit Bumrah and Pandya also chipped in with two wickets each.
Mumbai were initially circumspect in their chase before Quinton de Kock decided to turn on a switch in the fourth over and give Russell a little taste of his own medicine. The left-hander smoked two back-to-back sixes and a four in Russell’s first over which went for 21 as the hosts reached 46/0 at the end of the power play.
The strategic time-out then as it has done innumerable times this tournament claimed another victim with de Kock (30) falling to Prasidh Krishna straight after the six-over mark. The wicket, however, belonged to Karthik much more than Prasidh. De Kock top-edged a short of a length delivery straight up but for a long time it seemed the ball would fall in no man’s land. Karthik though was having none of it. He sprinted back at full tilt and with the ball still going away dived to pluck an absolute stunner.
Whatever opening Kolkata thought would they have got with de Kock’s wicket was firmly shut Rohit. The Mumbai captain hasn’t been in the best of touches so far this season but with no pressure on his shoulders regained some timely form ahead of the playoffs.
He kept the scoreboard ticking and found the boundaries as well every now and then. Rohit found an able ally in Suryakumar Yadav, who himself having looked off-colour this season, spent some important time in the middle.
The Mumbai captain reached his half-century – just the second of the season – with a push to deep cover and the hosts wrapped up the chase soon after with 23 balls to spare.
Rohit finished unbeaten on 55 off 48 balls that included eight fours while Yadav slammed a quickfire 27-ball 46* which was laced with five fours and two sixes.