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IPL 2012 – KKR vs MI: Narine Mystery Too Much For Mumbai

By on May 17, 2012

Kolkata Knight Riders 140 for 7 (Tiwary 41) beat Mumbai Indians 108 (Narine 4-15, Balaji 2-11) by 32 runs…

It had all built up to that one moment. Gautam Gambhir, playing three spinners against the home side’s decision to stick to three fast bowlers at the Wankhede Stadium, had hoped at the toss that the pitch would turn later. Kolkata Knight Riders had just about recovered from a horror start to post a decent 140. Mumbai Indians had found run-scoring as difficult as Knight Riders had, but had lost only two wickets at the halfway stage.

The last ball of the 11th over, Sunil Narine bowled a good length delivery to Sachin Tendulkar, who went for the cut. The ball spun in a mile and cannoned into off stump off bat and pad. Had both not come in the way, it would have taken out leg stump. With one of the game’s greats not being able to pick Narine, the rest of the Mumbai Indians line-up had little chance. He finished with 4 for 15; had Lasith Malinga not got six off a dropped catch on the straight boundary, Narine could have had 5 for 9.

The 32-run margin was substantial in the end, and it was down to how swiftly Knight Riders barged in to the opening created by Tendulkar’s dismissal. The pressure was already on Mumbai Indians after Herschelle Gibbs had crawled to 13 off 24 deliveries, four of those runs being overthrows. When Tendulkar fell, the asking-rate had touched nine. Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard had hunted down a much stiffer target against Royal Challengers Bangalore a couple of day ago. It wasn’t to be today. Not on this pitch.

The Wankhede crowd waited for their all-star line-up to fire. They waited for the big hits to come. In vain. With 58 needed off 28, Shakib Al Hasan lured Rayudu out with a wider one to give Brendon McCullum an easy stumping. Jacques Kallis, who had got a ripper from RP Singh first ball, had Pollard edging a slow bouncer to McCullum. Next ball, he trapped Dwayne Smith in front with a skiddy delivery which nipped in. Rohit Sharma was Mumbai Indians’ only hope now; Narine had him caught by a diving McCullum off a leading edge. The rest caved in.

Smith’s fall had made it 96 for 6, exactly the same perilous position Knight Riders had found themselves in after being stunned early by an atrocious umpiring decision and a terrific ball from RP Singh. Their lower order and Yusuf Pathan rode on some fortune, though, to take 44 off the final 26 balls.

Stroke-making was hard as the usual Wankhede bounce combined with the ball not coming on. The pitch did not have any role to play in the first dismissal, though; umpire Subroto Das had. He adjudged McCullum lbw though the batsman was at least two metres out of his crease to a ball that pitched outside leg and would have missed off. Knight Riders were to get another rough one later, when Tendulkar was caught plumb in front first ball by Shakib, only to be denied by umpire Billy Doctrove.

RP Singh followed up the McCullum wicket by uprooting Kallis’ off stump with a ripper, getting a short of a length ball to swing in and zip through the gate. A stunned Knight Riders tamely allowed the home bowlers to build up the pressure.

Even Gautam Gambhir, who has had a golden run this season, found it difficult to score, and could not capitalise on two let-offs. He was dropped by the wicketkeeper and by Tendulkar at third man, but was bowled on 27 as he missed a Pollard cutter.

Knight Riders continued to struggle to time their shots, with Tiwary pottering to 17 off 27 deliveries at one stage. An inside edge off Pollard brought him four, and he hammered the next ball past mid-off for another. Harbhajan Singh and Malinga were hit down the ground for sixes.

From 6 for 2 to 89 for 3 seemed a creditable recovery, given the pitch, but three wickets for seven runs nearly undid Tiwary’s efforts. Yusuf, caught off a RP Singh no-ball, could not do much to break his poor run, but along with the lower order, managed to get Knight Riders to 140.

It hadn’t looked to be a challenging total at the break, it turned out to be a match-winning one, and all but took Knight Riders to the playoffs.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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