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Knight Riders miss out on top-two finish as Mumbai defend 173

Mumbai Indians 173 for 5 (Rayudu 63, Tiwary 52, Boult 2-30) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 164 for 8 (Pandey 33, de Grandhomme 29, Hardik 2-22) by nine runs

 

Mumbai Indians ended the league stage of the IPL with a table-topping 20 points after they beat Kolkata Knight Riders by nine runs at the Eden Gardens. The defeat meant Knight Riders, with 16 points, would not finish in the top two. Sunrisers Hyderabad, who had beaten Gujarat Lions in Saturday’s afternoon game, had ended the league stage on 17.

Having made as many as six changes to their line-up in an effort to test their bench strength ahead of the playoffs, Mumbai posted 173 on the back of half-centuries from Saurabh Tiwary and Ambati Rayudu. Knight Riders were in control of the required rate from the start, but kept losing wickets far too frequently.

As many as five Knight Riders batsmen got to 20, and yet their top-scorer only made 33. This proved decisive, in the end, as they fell short of their target by 10 runs. It was Knight Riders’ first home defeat while chasing since 2013.

Rayudu fires to lift sluggish Mumbai

Lendl Simmons came into this game with an ordinary T20 record against left-arm pace – 503 runs off 492 balls, 20 dismissals – and he duly fell to a left-arm quick, flat-batting Trent Boult to mid-off in the third over of Mumbai’s innings. Rohit Sharma, pulling and slog-sweeping crisply, then scored 27 off 20 before Ankit Rajpoot had him lbw with an offcutter. That left Mumbai at a healthy 69 for 2 in 8.2 overs.

From there, though, they slowed down. Tiwary and Rayudu were Mumbai’s most productive pair in the 2010 season, and now, seven years on, they added 61 in 7.4 overs. Tiwary struggled to find the boundary once the Powerplay restrictions disappeared, scoring only 18 off 21 from the start of the seventh over before muscling Sunil Narine for successive fours in the 15th over to bring up his half-century. A comical mix-up – he stood unmoved at the non-striker’s end when Rayudu called for a fairly regulation single – ended his innings at 52 off 43 – it was the second-slowest 50-plus score of the season.

The four other fifties in that top five (Mandeep Singh, Virat Kohli, Chris Morris and Manoj Tiwary) had all ended up in losing causes.

Rayudu, though, ensured Mumbai would post a challenging if not entirely massive total. He began fairly sedately, hitting only one boundary in his first 20 runs, but upped the pace by peppering the leg-side boundaries, the highlight of his innings a pick-up shot over the deep backward square-leg boundary off Boult to bring up his half-century. Despite Kieron Pollard, Hardik Pandya and Krunal Pandya only scoring 14 off 14 between them, Rayudu’s 63 off 37 ensured Knight Riders wouldn’t run away with the game.

Slog on, regardless

Given that a team has ten wickets to exhaust over 20 overs, the “ideal” T20 innings would consist of batsmen going for big hits right through, with no pause for the rebuilding phases characteristic of 50-over cricket. That approach, however, requires a side that bats deep, with power hitters all the way down to Nos. 9, 10 and even 11.

Here, Knight Riders – in a chase of 174, where such an approach may not have been strictly necessary – seemed to be aiming for the platonic ideal of a T20 innings without having the line-up for it. Given that Chris Woakes was ruled out with an ankle injury, and that his replacement Boult is a classic No. 11, Knight Riders’ serious batting only extended up to Colin de Grandhomme at No. 7.

Still, they kept going hard; they kept finding the boundaries, but they also kept losing wickets. By the end of the ninth over, they had hit seven fours and six sixes and lost five wickets. Chris Lynn, Gautam Gambhir and Yusuf Pathan fell in the 20s, and it felt as if one of them could have attempted to anchor Knight Riders and give them some stability to go with their scoring rate. Instead, all three were out going for big shots.

When Yusuf holed out against Vinay Kumar, Knight Riders needed 87 from 66 balls; a perfectly straightforward ask, but they already had their last recognised pair at the crease.

Pandey, de Grandhomme steady chase

Manish Pandey and de Grandhomme gave Knight Riders the partnership they needed, putting on 41 in 31 balls. De Grandhomme maintained Knight Riders’ momentum, employing deftness rather than brawn to pick up his boundaries. He used Vinay Kumar’s pace to steer him either side of short third man for three fours in the 11th over, before clubbing Hardik Pandya over the midwicket boundary in more characteristic fashion.

Umpire S Ravi missed an inside-edge from Pandey to wicketkeeper Rayudu in the 14th over, but Mumbai didn’t have to wait too much longer for a breakthrough, Hardik nipping one back off the seam to bowl de Grandhomme at the start of the 15th. At that point, Knight Riders needed 46 from 35.

Knight Riders run out of batsmen

Pandey’s run of luck continued – substitute fielder J Suchith put him down at deep midwicket when he pulled Tim Southee uppishly in the 17th over. The rest of that over continued to frustrate Mumbai. Kuldeep Yadav guided the next ball past short third man for four, and then escaped being run out while taking a non-existent single when Karn Sharma missed the stumps at the bowler’s end. Then Southee was no-balled for bowling with only three fielders inside the circle. At the end of that over, Knight Riders only needed 25 off 18.

But they still only had one real batsman left, Pandey, and he pulled Hardik straight to deep midwicket off the first ball of the 18th over. Having now lost seven wickets, Knight Riders simply had no batsmen left with the skill to score 25 off 17 balls, particularly when umpire A Nanda Kishore gave Kuldeep caught-behind in the penultimate over when the ball missed his outside edge.

Credit:@ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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