As is often said, cricket is a game of fine margins. More so, in the shortest format where every delivery weaves a story of its own. While one fielding mishap might be enough to signal the death knell for a team’s chances, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) conceded multiple errors on the field and saw Hardik Pandya lead Mumbai Indians to a stirring four-wicket triumph at the Wankhede Stadium.
A thrilling set of events culminated in an engrossing final over. On a day wherein a batsman from each side scored scintillating half-centuries, it was some sustained mediocrity in the field by the Knight Riders as well as a blistering cameo from Pandya that sealed the contest for Mumbai.
Manish Pandey powers KKR to a competitive total
It all began when Rohit Sharma won the toss and decided to bowl first. The KKR openers seemed to pick up from where they left off in the other day at Rajkot. The first four overs yielded 44 runs. However, Mumbai broke through when Krunal Pandya prised out Gautam Gambhir and Robin Uthappa in the same over.
Just as the bowlers appeared to get on top of the visitors, Manish Pandey strode on to the crease and sparked a major revival. Even though he was a bit slow to get off the blocks, the 27-year old kept the scoreboard ticking by rotating the strike in the middle-overs.
When the end overs loomed, Pandey began to find his timing. A short, wide delivery from Mitchell McClenaghan opened his radar. With Jasprit Bumrah missing the yorkers only by a whisker, he proceeded to capitalise. The last over fetched as many as 23 runs and the right-hander finished with an eye-catching 47-ball 81.
Mumbai’s tale of two chases
Chasing 179 for victory, Mumbai rode on the belligerence of their openers who started to carve away at the target. After getting themselves in, both Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler departed in quick succession to hand over the advantage. Things soon turned worse when skipper Rohit found himself at the receiving end of a shocking umpiring decision. Despite the batsman getting a thick inside-edge, the umpire raised his finger.
Krunal could not quite extend his bowling heroics to the batting department. Even as Nitish Rana kept battling at the other end, Kieron Pollard fell at the wrong time. However, all-rounder Hardik joined Rana in the middle and the duo brought the chase back on track with their clean hitting.
The duo plundered 38 runs from the 18th and 19th overs combined to tilt the scales in Mumbai’s favour. But, the match was far from over as the Knight Riders still had 11 runs to defend off the final over with the well-set Rana sent back in the dressing room.
The fateful final over
Trent Boult was placed in charge of delivering the last over of the match. The first ball saw Hardik earn a couple of leg-byes from a delivery that was angled into him. With the dew factor making it rather difficult to control the ball, KKR’s fielding came unstuck as the buoyant home crowd turned on the pressure.
What should have been just a single was converted into a boundary by a shoddy piece of fielding from Suryakumar Yadav. The ball was drilled towards him and he just let it slip through his fingers to make the crucial mistake. The momentum was now with the hosts.
A well-directed bouncer from Boult earned a reprieve for KKR. He could have had his man in the very next delivery with a similar length. However, substitute fielder Rishi Dhawan slipped on the wet outfield and consequently failed to latch on to a straightforward catch.
With only three runs needed from the last couple of deliveries, the right-hander swung the willow from his hip to one that was right in the slot. Fast bowler Ankit Rajpoot, who had been stationed much squarer than necessary, unfurled a last-minute dive. But, the ball evaded his outstretched arms and Mumbai had sealed a dramatic last-over finish.
At the end of the game, KKR captain Gambhir was left to rue the costly fielding errors in the final over. Things could have been entirely different had their fielders countered the dew in a better manner and denied any breathing room for Hardik.