Defending champions Mumbai Indians were handed a 41-run defeat by Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening game of the 2014 IPL at the Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi. KKR captain, Gautam Gambhir won the toss and elected to bat first. Things did not start off well for the Kolkata outfit as Lasith Malinga yorked Gambhir early in the innings, but a determined 131-run partnership between Manish Pandey and Jacques Kallis helped KKR finish strongly. In reply, Mumbai Indians were undone by a miserly spell from fast bowler Morne Morkel before Sunil Narine’s four wickets saw the wheels come off their chase.
Mi bowlers strangle KKR
With the new ball in hand, Zaheer Khan returning for his second stint with the Mumbai Indians, had a clear plan. On a wicket with a generous tinge of green, the left-armer maintained a tight channel. All six balls were bowled full and Zaheer even got the ball to dart around. Gautam Gambhir, was kept guessing as Zaheer brought a couple of deliveries in to the left-hander before slipping in a couple of away-swingers.
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Gambhir managed to get wood on a couple, but after being beaten a few times, it was evident that the wicket at the Sheikh Zayed stadium was not the easiest to bat on.
In the following over from Malinga, Gambhir was served two yorkers, the second one shattered the timber. Just 28 runs came off the Powerplay overs with only a four and a six being hit. Manish Pandey and Jacques Kallis were content to play out dot balls as they got their eye in. Mumbai used four bowlers in the first six overs, and they seemed to have done their job.
Kallis steps on pedal
In fourth ball of the 14th over, Kallis batting on 34 off 30 tried to make room outside off.
Kieron Pollard followed the batsmen with an over-pitched delivery on to Kallis’ pads. The burly all-rounder flicked it straight to Lasith Malinga at short fine-leg, and the Sri Lankan served with the easiest of catches grassed the chance.
The reprieve was to cost Mumbai dear as Kallis cut loose in the very next over. He bludgeoned left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha through extra-cover in the next over and then danced down the track to dump Ojha over long-on for a massive six. He clubbed the last ball of the over, straight over the mid-wicket fence. The 20 plundered off the Ojha over were supplemented by 25 more off the next two, with Manish Pandey and Kallis taking apart the Mumbai bowling.
The well-timed assault had KKR well on their way towards a total in excess of 150.
On a green wicket, the lanky KKR quick Morne Morkel was always going to be a handful. In the second over, Morkel was right on the money, concentrating on a fourth-stump channel while getting the ball to kick off from a good-length area. In the five balls that Michael Hussey faced in Morkel’s first over, he only managed a thin inside-edge off one delivery. The rest, whizzed past Hussey’s bat as he repeatedly failed to make contact. Having conceded only one run in his first over, Morkel came back and served up some more unplayable deliveries to Hussey in his next over.
Hussey, already under pressure, was knocked over by Sunil Narine in the next over and Mumbai only managed four more runs than KKR in the power-play, ending the first six overs at 32 for one.
A 61-run stand between Ambati Rayudu and Mumbai skipper, Rohit Sharma, seemed to have salvaged a floundering chase and set the foundation for a final assault with a gettable, 63 needed off 30. The impressive Morkel, returning for his second spell, immediately put a spanner in the works, getting Sharma to hole out at the deep mid-wicket fence.
Narine spins a web
Sunil Narine, who had bowled only a single over in the first 16, came on for his second spell and proceeded to spin a web around the Mumbai batsmen. Rayudu was the first to go. The right-hander advanced down the track, but failed to pick Narine’s doosra and was stumped.
The much-hyped Corey Anderson was the next to go, having scored two off eight, his desperate attempts at heaving the ball over mid-wicket not coming to fruition. A stock Narine off-spinner, disturbed the Kiwi’s woodwork. Another viciously turning doosra, beat Harbhajan Singh all ends up as the Knight Riders progressed to a convincing 41-run victory.