Mumbai Indians, table-toppers at the end of the league stage, seal the final berth after a convincing six-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in IPL 2017 Qualifier 2 in Bangalore on Friday. Not many runs were scored as the slow nature of the pitch kept the bowlers interested, and batsmen guessing. Set a 108-run target for win, Mumbai Indians lost Lendl Simmons, Parthiv Patel and Ambati Rayudu cheaply but Krunal Pandya and Rohit Sharma combined well to put the chase back on track.
Krunal in particular operated like a smart customer in the middle and didn’t fail to put the loose deliveries away. The left-hander, promoted up the order, remained unbeaten on a 30-ball 45 and was involved in a solid partnership with skipper Rohit Sharma (26). KKR were still in the game in the powerplay after Piyush Chawla’s testing spell but Pandya and Rohit played smartly to see the side through. Krunal hit eight boundaries during his knock and kept the scoreboard ticking with quick singles.
KKR, who started the tournament on a very strong note, will end their campaign and will be very disappointed with the result. The two-time champs outplayed SRH in the Eliminator but their batting didn’t come good after Rohit put the Gambhir and Co into bat. The combination of Chris Lynn and Sunil Narine didn’t work against a formidable Mumbai bowling line-up and Rohit’s bowling changes never allowed them to settle. Jasprit Bumrah made early inroads and manage to pick the big wickets of Chris Lynn and Robin Uthappa.
After seam show, it was Karn Sharma all the way as the leggie ran through KKR’s middle-order and returned with impressive figures of 4/16. Ishank Jaggi and Suryakumar Yadav’s stand did push the total over the 100-run mark but one of them had to stay till the end for a respectable figure. That was not the case to be today and full marks to Mumbai for bowling the way they did today.
Action now shifts to Sunday’s final where Mumbai will meet Rising Pune Supergiant. An exciting Maha derby on the cards, and the numbers are clearly in Pune’s favour. The Steve Smith-led unit has managed to beat Mumbai all three times they have met in the IPL so far. Will Sunday be the fourth? Or Mumbai’s third title? We will find that out in less than two day’s time.