His brilliant spell helps Kolkata Knight Riders move closer to the play-offs
Kolkata Knight Riders took a huge step towards confirming a play-off berth in IPL-V, defending 140 in style against a trigger-happy Mumbai Indians and winning by 32 runs with five balls to spare. Sunil Narine reaped a rich haul of four for 15, backed by medium-pacers L. Balaji (two for 11) and Jacques Kallis (two for 32).
KKR climbed to the second spot with 19 points with this victory, ahead of Mumbai Indians (18). Delhi Daredevils remained on top with 20.
Wicket-keeper Brendon McCullum pulled his weight with two catches and a stumping. The host handed the match to KKR on a platter with reckless batting, and was bowled out for 108 in 19.1 overs on a bowler-friendly Wankhede wicket.
Sachin Tendulkar top scored (27 off 24 balls) in what was an embarrassing procession to the dressing room by the home team. KKR's tactic of enticing Mumbai Indians' assembly of strokeplayers with spin worked beyond its wildest expectations.
Tendulkar was cleaned up by a Narine special, which bounced and turned to brush the pads and hit the stumps. Rohit Sharma misread the length and popped a catch to McCullum. Ambati Rayudu stepped out to Shakib Al Hasan and got stumped.
Mumbai Indians began the chase tentatively with opener Herschelle Gibbs facing a torrid time against Balaji, and Tendulkar surviving a vehement leg-before appeal off Shakib off the first ball.
Umpire Billy Doctrove responded with a raised finger at KKR's next leg-before appeal against Gibbs as the first six overs fetched only 26 runs.
Tendulkar counter-attacked with a cheeky upper cut off Kallis, directing the short ball over the 'keeper for six.
Two boundaries by Karthik kept the scoreboard ticking before he gifted his wicket away with a pull straight into Yusuf's safe hands at fine-leg.
Gambhir in fine touch
Earlier, Harbhajan chose to field and his bowlers called the shots in the batting Power Play. Even Gautam Gambhir, who has been in fine form, felt the jitters and struggled to get the ball off the square.
He was dropped by Sachin at third man, but Pollard eventually got him out playing down the wrong line. R.P. Singh stunned the batsmen with late swing in the air and off the pitch. He struck a double blow, with Kallis perishing first ball after McCullum was unlucky to be adjudged leg-before.
Manoj Tiwary thwarted the hat-trick and with the wicket offering so much assistance, R.P. Singh and Malinga were able to make the ball talk.
Munaf and Pollard, too, cut off all escape routes with a stump-to-stump line. The former kept his temper in check and the latter used the width of the crease and drove the batsmen up the wall by varying his pace. Malinga provoked Yusuf with short balls, while R.P. Singh taunted him with width.
The KKR batsmen appeared in a daze till the 12th over when Tiwary targeted the below-par Harbhajan and tested Malinga's resolve in the 13th. He broke the stranglehold by stepping out against the off-spinner and clearing long-on.
Kolkata Knight Riders: G. Gambhir b Pollard 27 (23b, 3x4, 1x6), B. McCullum lbw b R.P. Singh 1 (5b), J. Kallis b R.P. Singh 0 (1b), M. Tiwary c Malinga b Munaf 41 (43b, 2x4, 2x6), Shakib b Smith 13 (12b, 1x4), Yusuf (not out) 21 (21b, 2x4), Debabrata (run out) 2 (3b), R. Bhatia c Karthik b Malinga 12 (7b, 2x4), S. Narine (not out) 9 (6b, 2x4); Extras (b-1, lb-5, nb-1, w-7): 14; Total (for seven wkts. in 20 overs): 140.
Fall of wickets: 1-6 (McCullum), 2-6 (Kallis), 3-44 (Gambhir), 4-89 (Shakib), 5-91 (Tiwary), 6-96 (Debabrata), 7-125 (Bhatia).
Mumbai Indians bowling: Munaf 4-0-17-1, R.P. Singh 4-0-33-2, Malinga 4-0-32-1, Pollard 3-0-20-1, Harbhajan 3-0-24-0, Smith 2-0-8-1.
Mumbai Indians: H. Gibbs lbw b Abdulla 13 (24b, 1x4), S. Tendulkar b Narine 27 (24b, 3x4, 1x6), D. Karthik c Yusuf b Balaji 21 (26b, 3x4), Rohit c McCullum b Narine 12 (14b, 1x4), A. Rayudu st. McCullum b Shakib 11 (8b, 1x6), K. Pollard c McCullum b Kallis 8 (5b, 1x4), D. Smith lbw b Kallis 0 (1b), Harbhajan c Tiwary b Narine 1 (2b), L. Malinga c Tiwary b Balaji 8 (6b, 1x6), R.P. Singh c Abdulla b Narine 3 (5b), Munaf (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (lb-2, w-2): 4; Total (in 19.1 overs): 108.
Fall of wickets: 1-26 (Gibbs), 2-60 (Tendulkar), 3-66 (Karthik), 4-83 (Rayudu), 5-96 (Pollard), 6-96 (Smith), 7-97 (Harbhajan), 8-104 (Rohit), 9-108 (Malinga).
Kolkata Knight Riders bowling: Balaji 4-0-11-2, Shakib 4-0-25-1, Narine 3.1-0-15-4, Abdulla 4-0-23-1, Kallis 4-0-32-2.