Mumbai, April 28 (IANS) Riding on skipper Rohit Sharma’s unbeaten 68 alongside Kieron Pollard’s quickfire 17-ball 51, defending champions Mumbai Indians outclassed Kolkata Knight Riders by six wickets in an Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket match at the Wankhede Stadium here on Thursday.
Batting first, KKR posted a competitive total of 174/5 in 20 overs, thanks to skipper Gautam Gambhir’s 45-ball 59.
In reply, Rohit struck 68 not out off just 49 balls, as the hosts chased down the target comfortably posting 178/4 in 18 overs.
Rohit struck eight boundaries and two sixes, while Pollard, who also remained unbeaten, smashed six sixes and two boundaries to take the team to victory.
Chasing a challenging target of 175, the home side got off to a disappointing start losing in-form opener Parthiv Patel (1) in the second over itself.
But his opening partner, skipper Rohit Sharma used his experience to best effect to score runs at a good pace without losing anymore wickets to help the team reach 64/1 after completion of powerplay.
He was supported well at the other end by Ambati Rayudu (32).
The duo struck a much needed 50-run partnership for the second wicket in just 27 balls to help the team stay on course for a victory.
But Shakib Al Hasan dismissed Rayudu in the seventh over to put an end to a good partnership.
New batsman Krunal Pandya (6) failed to impress as his dismissal in the ninth over reduced Mumbai to 78/2.
Despite wickets falling at the other end, Rohit stayed calm and brought up yet another half-century in just 36 balls and take the team past the 100-run mark in the 12th over.
After the dismissal of Jos Buttler (15), incoming batsman Kieron Pollard came into the show and smashed Rajagopal Sathish for 23 runs in the 16th over to put Mumbai on course to a win.
From there on, Pollard and Rohit remained unbeteaten to take the team over the victory line.
Sunil Narine (2-22) was the pick of the bowlers for Kolkata, while Shakib Al Hasan and Umesh Yadav claimed one wicket each.
Earlier, put into bat, in-form openers Gambhir and Robin Uthappa (36) got KKR off to a flying start scoring 59 without losing any wickets after the completion of powerplay.
The home team missed a golden chance to dismiss the KKR skipper as pacer Mitchell McClenaghan dropped a skier off his own bowling in the powerplay, when the left-hander was batting at eight.
But veteran off-spinner Harbhajan brought the much needed breakthrough dismissing Uthappa in the eighth over to put the brakes on the KKR run flow.
Incoming batsman Shakib Al Hasan (6) too departed cheaply without troubling the scorers much, to have the visitors reduced to 77/2 in the ninth over.
Despite two quick wickets at the other end, Gambhir kept his cool and used his experience to help the team post 85/2 after 10 overs. He was well supported at the other end by Suryakumar Yadav (21).
Gambhir kept his good IPL form going, as he struck yet another half-century in just 39 balls to keep KKR in the hunt for a massive total.
The 44-run partnership for the third wicket between Gambhir and Suryakumar came to an end when McClenaghan finally got the wicket of the KKR skipper to heave a huge sigh of relief.
Suryakumar, who was looking set to finish the game for KKR, returned to the pavilion cheaply as he was caught and bowled by Tim Southee in the 16th over. Kolkata were 130/4 then.
Later on, Andre Russell (22 off 16) played a quickfire knock before getting out in the 18th over.
But the 19th over of the innings turned out to be an unlucky one for pacer McClenaghan as his teammate Southee dropped Yusuf Pathan and Chris Lynn in two successive balls to hand life to both batsmen.
From there on, Yusuf (19 not out) and Lynn (10 not out) remained unbeaten to take the team past the 170-run mark.
Southee (2-38) was the pick of the bowlers for Mumbai, while Harbhajan Singh, McClenaghan and Hardik Pandya claimed one wicket each.
Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders 174/5 in 20 overs (Gautam Gambhir 59; Tim Southee 2-38) vs Mumbai Indians 178/4 in 18 overs (Rohit Sharma 68 not out, Kieron Pollard 51 not out; Sunil Narine 2-22)
(Aritra Chowdhury can be contacted at email@example.com)