MI skipper Rohit Sharma’s fine unbeaten 98 goes in vain.
Captain Gautam Gambhir led from the front to inspire defending champion Kolkata Knight Riders to a seven-wicket win over 2013 champion Mumbai Indians in the opening match of the Pepsi IPL-8 at the Eden Gardens here on Wednesday.Gambhir, who scored 57, stole the show from MI captain Rohit Sharma who scored an unbeaten 98.
Requiring 169 to win, KKR, with fine efforts from Gambhir, Manish Pandey (40) and Surya Kumar Yadav (46 not out), overhauled the target with nine balls to spare.Riding the confidence of last year’s title triumph, KKR began the run chase methodically and cruised to its 10th successive win in the IPL.
Captain Gautam Gambhir set the platform for the win, combining with Manish Pandey for an 85-run second-wicket partnership. Last season’s Orange Cap (highest scorer) owner Robin Uthappa (9) appeared a bit off-colour, but KKR recovered well despite the early departure of its key batsman.
Gambhir, who was dropped by Mumbai wicketkeeper Aditya Tare off Vinay Kumar when on one in the second over of the innings, anchored the chase well and combined first with Pandey and then with Surya Kumar to push the score into the comfort zone.
After Gambhir’s departure, Suryakumar took over clouting five sixes in his 20-ball 46.Earlier, Rohit Sharma’s romance with the Eden wicket continued as he piloted the Mumbai Indians innings.The elegant right-hander timed his shots fluently and paired in an unbeaten 131-run partnership with Kiwi left-hander Corey Anderson, who looked to pick up from the conviction of his captain and scored a fine 55.
Mumbai Indians began quite sluggishly as the KKR bowlers, led by South African Morne Morkel, bowled the initial 10 overs with great discipline.Morkel produced remarkable pace and bounce and picked up the wickets of opener Aaron Finch and Ambati Rayudu to have MI tottering at 37 for three in 5.2 overs.
Bangladesh all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan had picked up Aditya Tare in between before the visitors began the recovery.
Despite being economical, Sunil Narine failed to spin the web of mystery on his return with a ‘modified’ action. Rohit, dropped by wicketkeeper Uthappa off Narine on 70, led the run riot as the visitors collected 88 runs in the last six overs at a rate of 14.66.
Rohit remained unbeaten on the threshold of a third ODI century. Had he reached the milestone it would have been a fine sequel to his ODI world record of 264 in his last appearance (for India against Sri Lanka) at the same venue in November.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (not out) 98 (65b, 12×4, 4×6), Aaron Finch c Umesh b Morkel 5 (5b, 1×4), Aditya Tare c Umesh b Shakib Al Hasan 7 (7b, 1×4), Ambati Rayudu c Yusuf b Morkel 0 (2b), Corey Anderson (not out) 55 (41b, 4×4, 3×6); Extras (lb-1, w-2): 3; Total (for three wickets in 20 overs):168.
Fall of wickets: 1-8 (Finch), 2-37 (Tare), 3-37 (Rayudu).
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Umesh Yadav 3-0-36-0, Morne Morkel 4-1-18-2, Shakib Al Hasan 4-0-48-1, Sunil Narine 4-0-28-0, Andre Russell 3-0-21-0, Piyush Chawla 2-0-16-0.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Robin Uthappa c Harbhajan b Anderson 9 (12b,1×6), Gautam Gambhir c Rayudu b Bumrah 57 (43b, 7×4, 1×6), Manish Pandey c Pollard b Harbhajan 40 (24b, 2×4, 3×6), Surya Kumar Yadav (not out) 46 (20b, 1×4, 5×6), Yusuf Pathan (not out) 14 (12b, 1×4, 1×6); Extras (lb-2, w-2): 4; Total (for three wickets in 18.3 overs): 170.
Fall of wickets: 1-13 (Uthappa) 2-98 (Pandey), 3-121 (Gambhir).
Mumbai Indians bowling: Lasith Malinga 4-0-27-0, R. Vinay Kumar 3.3-0-21-0, Corey Anderson 2-0-21-1, Jasprit Bumrah 3-0-38-1, Pragyan Ojha 2-0-23-0, Harbhajan Singh 4-0-38-1.
Man-of-the-match: Morne Morkel.
KKR won by 7 wkts in 18.3 overs.