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Friday, October 30, 2020

Knights in the dark: Eoin Morgan’s reign off to a disastrous start as Rohit & Co showcase their might

Mumbai Indians reached the 149-run target for the loss of two wickets with more than three overs remaining.

Written by Sriram Veera | Updated: October 17, 2020 3:56:38 pm
iplQuinton de Kock (78*) top scored for Mumbai Indians. (Twitter/IPL)

Nothing went right for Kolkata Knight Riders in Eoin Morgan’s first game as captain. The batting lacked intent and the usual suspects continued to fail; Dinesh Karthik, who stepped down from captaincy, continued his horror run with the bat and so did Andre Russell. Mumbai Indians reached the 149-run target for the loss of two wickets with more than three overs remaining.

Sluggish KKR

Kolkata Knight Riders played like a team whose captain had stepped down midseason, on the morning of a game against the defending champions. That chaos showed in the batting until Pat Cummins stirred up some semblance of a revival, helping them take 49 runs in the last four overs. Before his arrival, the innings had lacked intent and revealed self-doubts and flaws. It started with a sensational catch from Suryakumar Yadav when he dived to his left at backward point to grab a slash from Rahul Tripathi. Nitish Rana then gloved a bouncer, Shubman Gill tamely hit to long-on, and Russel too was taken out by a bumper. Every team now targets Russel with a short one at his body and he hasn’t come up with an answer yet. His propensity to stay legside of the ball, irrespective of the line, has also led to trouble.

Karthik is the ninth captain to be changed midseason in IPL but the first to go despite the team being in the top four of the points table. In the first seven games, he had scored 108 at just 15.42 and that pressure showed. He tried to nurdle and prod before going for a paddle shot off leg-spinner Rahul Chahar and saw the ball dribble off the edge on to his stumps. Watching him from the other end was the man who has replaced him. Morgan dropped anchor to try and prevent the team from being bowled out.

The game was meandering along when Cummins intervened. He has already shown a liking for Mumbai Indians – in their previous meeting this season, he had slammed Jasprit Bumrah for four sixes in an over. He customised his movements to the bowlers – shuffling towards off against Trent Boult to go legside, staying beside the line to Bumrah, and hitting through the line against Nathan Coulter-Nile.

In the last over, bowled by Coulter-Nile, Morgan too joined in, hitting two sixes as they scored 21 runs to take the total to 148/5 but it wasn’t enough to even test Mumbai’s might.

Mumbai boss around in style

The only thing in the chase that was out of order for Mumbai Indians was Quinton de Kock’s pants. Half-way to the middle, he realised he had worn the training pants instead of the match trousers. He turned to walk back but decided against it; just untucked his jersey and pulled it down. Rohit Sharma was seen laughing, a mood that stayed through the chase. De Kock unfurled all the shots that we have come to associate with him: the heaves over midwicket, the feisty pulls, and the blasts through the line. Sharma too had his moments with the bat, triggering purrs from Brett Lee on air: “the best puller in world cricket right now”.

Mumbai even promoted Hardik Pandya who has been playing as a specialist batsman, and he smacked a few to hasten the end.

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