IPL 2018 – MI vs KKR: Hardik delivers twice at the death to keep Mumbai alive


MAY 6, 2018

Brief Scorecard: Mumbai Indians 181 for 4 (Suryakumar 59, Lewis 43, Russell 2-12, Narine 2-35) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 168 for 6 (Uthappa 54, Karthik 36*, Hardik 2-19) by 13 runs

May 6, 2018: Mumbai Indians v Kolkata Knight Riders, IPL 2018, Mumbai Evin Lewis and Suryakumar Yadav opened for Mumbai on a scorching afternoon – BCCI

MUMBAI – At the end of a match that fluctuated this way and that and back again, Mumbai Indians are still alive in the IPL. They lost their way after a blazing start with the bat, but managed to set a target just north of 180. At various points during their chase, Kolkata Knight Riders threatened to run away with it, but they kept losing wickets at critical intervals, often to well-directed short balls.

One man made a vital difference on both fronts. Hardik Pandya made an unbeaten 35 off 20 and followed up with four overs full of smart changes of pace to finish with 2 for 19, including an 18th over that went for only six runs. It left Knight Riders needing 37 off 12, and even Dinesh Karthik, who came into this game with a strike rate of 212.50 in chases this season, couldn’t pull it off.

Lewis, Suryakumar blaze away

At the start, this looked like a 200 versus 200 kind of game. Sent in, Mumbai got off to a flier, with Suryakumar Yadav and Evin Lewis tucking into a KKR attack that was without its best pace options – Shivam Mavi’s finger joined the team’s long list of injured fast-bowler body parts this season, allowing Prasidh Krishna to make his IPL debut – and whose spinners didn’t have too much to work with on a flat Wankhede deck.

By the time Andre Russell, himself underbowled this season to preserve his hamstrings, removed Lewis with a slower ball, Mumbai had moved to 91 in 9.2 overs.

Mumbai wilt in the afternoon sun

Visibly fatigued through the last third of his innings – the physio came onto the field to attend to him – Suryakumar, who had smacked 47 off his first 28 balls, only scored 12 off his last 11 balls at the crease.

Meanwhile, Sunil Narine, who only bowled one over in the first half of Mumbai’s innings, had come back into the attack, and dismissed Rohit Sharma, caught at deep midwicket. He had presumably been held back for his match-up against Rohit, who had scored only 117 off 109 T20 balls against Narine before this game, with six dismissals.

Mumbai’s middle order continued to struggle, and could have ended with significantly less than their 181 if not for Hardik. He combined some innovative shots – including a scoop over his shoulder and a one-handed six over long-off – plus a couple of fortunate edged boundaries in the last over – bowled by the debutant Krishna rather than Russell or Mitchell Johnson – to give Mumbai what proved a vital run cushion.

Mumbai bang it in

Perhaps mindful that Mitchell McClenaghan likes bowling short and that Sunil Narine doesn’t quite relish that length, KKR changed their opening combination, and sent out Shubman Gill alongside Chris Lynn. Despite the absence of Narine, McClenaghan kept bowling short, as did Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya. In all, of the 37 balls Mumbai bowled in the Powerplay (including one wide), 29 were short or short of good length.

It seemed risky, at times, especially when McClenaghan banged it in with fine leg inside the circle, but it worked. Lynn swatted one straight to that fielder, and Robin Uthappa should have been out for 4 when he mistimed another short ball, off Hardik, to mid-on, only for Mayank Markande to put down a sitter.

Uthappa exposes Mumbai’s bowling depth

After a Powerplay full of pace, Mumbai turned to spin and the medium-paced cutters of Ben Cutting. Uthappa and Nitish Rana went after the slower bowlers, and scored 64 from overs 7 to 12.

Uthappa went after Cutting in particular, moving around his crease and hitting him pretty much where he pleased to pick up four successive fours in the 12th over. With Cutting not getting to bat, and keeping out a specialist bowler in Mustafizur Rahman, he seemed set to end up as the selection that cost Mumbai the game.

Another Rana slowdown

Uthappa’s fireworks, however, weren’t making as much of an impact on the scoreboard as they could have, since Rana was slowing down at the other end. Rana is an impressive young batsman with a sensational square cut, and he had hit two fours with that shot as well as an uppercut six to race to 22 off 11 balls.

Thereafter, though, he began taking singles to the deep fielders rather than keep going for big hits. Having scored only 9 off his next 15 balls and watched Uthappa hole out, he took It’s hard to pin down the reasons behind Rana’s slowdown, but it’s been a pattern through this season. In the first 10 balls of his innings, he has scored 117 off 82 balls at a strike rate of 142.68. Thereafter, however, he has only scored 102 off 84 at 121.43.

When Rana fell, KKR needed 67 off 39 balls.

One catch to make up for the rest

Apart from Markande’s drop off Uthappa, Mumbai put down another sitter – JP Duminy at deep square leg – to let off Dinesh Karthik off the last ball of the 19th over. That left KKR needing 23 off the final over.

Their last-over equation might have been far more achievable had Mumbai dropped another chance, a far more difficult one. With KKR needing 51 off 21, Andre Russell miscued a pull off Bumrah and sent it high into the sky above the backward square-leg boundary. Krunal Pandya, running from short fine leg, tracked the ball’s descent from over his shoulder, and ended up having to dive forward to complete the catch, but held on with both hands.

Courtesy/Source: ESPNCricinfo