KOLKATA: Mumbai Indians won a last-over thriller at the Eden Gardens as they bested Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets, with a ball to spare, on Wednesday night. Chasing 160, Mumbai needed 10 off the last over when the well-set Kieron Pollard was caught on the first ball, a slower delivery, by Rajat Bhatia.
Ambati Rayudu scampered a single on the next delivery, leaving the requirement at nine from four. Harbhajan Singh, who had been clobbered for 26 in the opening over of the match, then atoned for his bowling lapses by swinging a maximum over the mid-wicket region, pretty much deciding the outcome.
Man of the Match Dwayne Smith (62) had provided the boost to the chase, while skipper Rohit Sharma (34) and Pollard (33) steadied the middle to build a platform for the launch. Mumbai had earlier survived a cataclysmic first over, to hold back the home side to 159 as Pragyan Ojha, Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga picked up two apiece and gave away very little.
Pathan, sent up to open, destroyed Harbhajan for 4, 4, 4 and 6 to begin the match and Gautam Gambhir tonked another maximum off the last ball to rub it in. The introduction of Johnson - in the side for Ricky Ponting, who had in-turn handed over captaincy duties to Rohit Sharma – saw the end of Pathan. The burly hard-hitter slashed to Harbhajan at slip as Kolkata lost their first wicket.
Ojha’s left-arm spin then slackened the rate of accumulation. Ojha took out an aggressive Gambhir (26), who was caught trying to clear cover, and a sedate Kallis, who couldn’t quite hit top gear during his 37 that was scored at less than a run-a ball.
Kolkata were rescued yet again by Eoin Morgan (31, 25b). The dashing England batsman partnered Manoj Tiwary (33, 24b) for 54 in just 38 balls, his stand out shot a six pinged over long-on off the pace of Johnson.
Mumbai struck back when the Aussie bowler returned to have Morgan caught, followed by which Malinga, who had been carted for 24 in his first three, bowled a fabulous last over. The Lankan slinger conceded just one and rattled two yorkers on through to the stumps of Tiwary and Debabrata Das, the innings ending on an entirely contrasting note to how it had begun.
On his 40th birthday, Sachin Tendulkar faced his first delivery only in the third over and didn’t do much before Sunil Narine snuck one through the gate to flatten the middle stick. Smith had not looked too convincing early up. He opened up against Iqbal Abdullah, carting the left-arm spinner for four of his five sixes and bringing up his half-century in 34 deliveries.
Both Smith and the in-form Dinesh Karthik (7) were out quickly. The latter trapped in front by Senanayake and the former mistiming Narine in the air to be sloppily caught by Brendon McCullum, who was also involved in another crucial event at the boundary.
With the asking rate mounting, Rohit pounded Senanayake back over his head and over square-leg for maximums, and in the next over, McCullum at long-off let a chance through his hands and across the boundary, to Pollard’s miscue against Rajat Bhatia.
But as Narine’s mystery spin had claimed Smith, he returned to dismiss Sharma, disrupting the 50-run alliance between him and Pollard. Mumbai, however, were not to be denied. It was the least they could have done for the birthday boy.