Fine show by Kallis, Pandey and Narine ; Malinga’s effort goes in vain

Mohawk-haired mystery man Sunil Narine wove quite a tangled web, tying up Mumbai Indians in knots as Kolkata Knight Riders cruised to a comfortable victory in the opening match of the Indian Premier League at Zayed Cricket Stadium here on Wednesday night.

Making the most of the slow strip that suited him immensely, the Trinidadian tweaker took the wind out of the defending champion’s sails, choking its chase a good 41 runs short of target.

His impressive bag of four for 20 included the prized scalp of Mumbai’s top-scorer Ambati Rayudu.

If the Mumbai Indians wasn’t truly launched in their response after the openers were gone at 40, Rayudu, in the company of his captain spurred the side. Both bludgeoned the KKR bowlers for a while but it wasn’t destined to last. Vying with each other at times, they tore into the attack that the duo dominated in their 63-run third-wicket stand.

Rohit Sharma didn’t do justice to his gifts though, attempting an encore of a sweetly-timed six off Morkel and miscuing instead to a diving Kallis.

Kieron Pollard, scourge of bowlers the world over, was at the receiving end this day, struck successively on the chest by two steeplers from Morkel.

Sedate self

KKR had taken first strike in the IPL’s 400th match, but skipper Gambhir found Malinga’s sandshoe crusher a shade scorching and his stumps splayed by the Sri Lankan slinger’s straight one.

Non-striker Kallis, the elder statesman, was his sedate self, his singles eclipsed initially by newcomer Pandey’s hits to and over the hoardings.

The South African senior pro swept Harbhajan to the square leg fence but proved more of a worthy foil to Pandey who had button-holed the bowling by then. If the spin duo of Ojha and Harbhajan had little impact on Pandey, Malinga’s yorkers left Kallis unfazed.

The all-rounder pumped up the pace, pummeling Ojha high into the galleries over long-on, over the square-leg ropes and even doing a Dilshan on Pollard.

Costly lapse

Malinga spilling a chance at short fine leg from Kallis earlier had proved costly even as Pandey plundered the bowling with panache. The majesty of the man-of-the-match Kallis’s knock underscored his stature in the pantheon of greats, even in the game’s shortest format.

If Kallis strode the stage like a latter day Colossus, it brought grief to see another gladiator — Hussey — all at sea against the guiles of Narine.

It’s early days still and one knows not what the awesome Aussie can come up with.

Scoreboard

Kolkata Knight Riders: G. Gambhir b Malinga 0 (8b), J. Kallis c Anderson b Malinga 72 (46b, 5x4, 3x6), M. Pandey b Malinga 64 (53b, 6x4, 2x6), R. Uthappa c Rohit b Zaheer 1 (2b), Yusuf (not out) 4 (4b), Shakib c Rohit b Malinga 1 (2b), S. Yadav (not out) 13 (5b, 3x4); Extras (lb-4, w-4): 8; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 163.

Fall of wickets: 1-4 (Gambhir), 2-135 (Pandey), 3-144 (Uthappa), 4-145 (Kallis), 5-149 (Shakib).

Mumbai Indians bowling: Zaheer 4-0-23-1, Malinga 4-0-23-4, Anderson 3-0-33-0, Ojha 4-0-36-0, Harbhajan 3-0-25-0, Pollard 2-0-19-0.

Mumbai Indians: M. Hussey b Narine 3 (13b), A. Tare c & b Shakib 24 (22b, 2x4, 1x6), A. Rayudu st. Uthappa b Narine 48 (40b, 4x4), Rohit c Kallis b M. Morkel 27 (20b, 1x6), K. Pollard (not out) 6 (8b), C. Anderson b Narine 2 (8b), Harbhajan b Narine 0 (2b), C.M. Gautam st. Uthappa b Chawla 7 (7b, 1x4); Extras (b-4, w-1): 5; Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs): 122.

Fall of wickets: 1-24 (Hussey), 2-40 (Tare), 3-101 (Rohit), 4-106 (Rayudu), 5-113 (Anderson), 6-113 (Harbhajan), 7-122 (Gautam).

Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Vinay 2-0-15-0, M. Morkel 4-0-16-1, Narine 4-0-20-4, Shakib 4-0-29-1, Kallis 3-0-23-0, Chawla 3-0-15-1.

Man-of-the-match: Kallis.