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Rana, Hardik seal thriller for Mumbai

Wisden India logo Wisden India 10-04-2017

Nitish Rana and Hardik Pandya pulled off a late heist of epic proportions as Mumbai Indians overcame Manish Pandey’s brilliance with the bat and dubious umpiring calls to register their first win of the Indian Premier League 2017, defeating Kolkata Knight Riders by four wickets in a thriller at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai on Sunday (April 9).

Full scorecard: MI vs KKR

Mumbai seemed down and out in chase of 179 when they needed 60 off 23 balls with five wickets down, but Rana (50 off 29) and Hardik (29* off 11) grabbed victory from the jaws of defeat. It meant Pandey’s unbeaten 47-ball 81 that helped Kolkata to 178 for 7 went in vain. Mumbai eventually finished on 180 for 6 with one ball to spare.

Mumbai’s chase started on a steady note, although Parthiv Patel kept trying in vain to make it a rapid one. He swung and missed regularly as Trent Boult and Chris Woakes, Kolkata’s new-ball bowlers, kept it tight, while Jos Buttler was also a bit subdued.

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But Parthiv still managed to find the odd boundary and Buttler also cleared the ropes twice, once with an audacious scoop off Woakes. It helped Mumbai reached 65 in the eighth over, when the tide started changing. Parthiv was trapped leg before on the sweep by Kuldeep Yadav, one ball after heaving him for a six, but Mumbai wouldn’t have minded that wicket at that stage.

The same, though, can’t be said about what would happen in the next two overs as Buttler and Rohit Sharma were also out leg before to incorrect umpiring decisions. Buttler was given out – wrongly for the second consecutive game – to Ankit Rajpoot by Nitin Menon although the ball would have missed leg-stump. Rohit fell to Sunil Narine, CK Nandan missing the massive inside edge before the ball hit the pad.

Rana counter-attacked, but Mumbai slipped further when Krunal Pandya was strangled down leg by Rajpoot.

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The hosts needed 82 off 48 at that point and although Kieron Pollard began confidently with a six, the equation came down to 60 off 24 with Narine keeping Pollard under check and finishing a tidy spell of 1 for 22.

Things only got tougher for Mumbai when Pollard slashed Woakes to third-man off the first ball after the strategic time-out, but if Kolkata thought the game was sealed, they were mistaken.

Hardik, who had smashed Ashok Dinda for 29 runs in the last over of Mumbai’s innings against Rising Pune Supergiant, joined Rana and both batsmen scored boundaries at will. While Hardik used his massive bat-swing and generated power, Rana was smart, playing the pick-up and scoop shots to use the bowlers’ pace.

Nitish Rana, Hardik Pandya take Mumbai to thrilling win

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The styles were contrasting but it meant the pair smashed 19 runs each in the 18th and 19th overs, bowled by Boult and Rajpoot respectively. The six-hitting exhibition reduced the equation to a much gettable 11 off the final over.

Rana had fallen in the penultimate over trying to pierce the point boundary but Mumbai had Hardik in the middle. He was aided by some amateur fielding by Kolkata in the final over that spoiled a spirited over by Boult. Suryakumar Yadav first let a boundary through his legs off the second ball, while Rishi Dhawan, the substitute fielder, dropped Hardik off the fourth ball at deep square-leg to effectively hand over the game to Mumbai.

Earlier, put in to bat, Kolkata’s openers threatened to take off from where they left against Gujarat Lions, with Gautam Gambhir dominating Jasprit Bumrah in a 15-run third over and Chris Lynn following it up with a massive six off Lasith Malinga in the next.

Complete coverage: IPL 2017

A change to spin in the fifth over, though, killed any such hopes as Krunal struck twice in four balls. Gambhir first found square-leg with a sweep before Robin Uthappa played an ill-advised slog to deep mid-wicket before even getting his eye in.

Kolkata still managed 59 runs in the Power Play with Lynn doing the bulk of the scoring but when he was trapped leg before walking far too across to Bumrah in the eighth over, Kolkata’s run rate took a hit.

Mumbai saw the opportunity and kept Kolkata under check through spinners Krunal and Harbhajan Singh in the middle overs, the pressure also resulting in Yusuf Pathan lofting Krunal to long-off in the 12th over. Krunal could have also had Pandey in the same over when he drew the batsman forward and caught the edge with a beautiful delivery, but Parthiv couldn’t hold on to the chance.

Pandey was struggling on 14 off 18 then, but the drop would prove costly for Mumbai. He took charge of the innings and unleashed his wide range of strokes, finding the boundary at least once every over. Mumbai struck a couple more times at the other end but they could do nothing against Pandey, who enjoyed another reprieve when Harbhajan missed a run out chance in the 17th over.

Mumbai would once again go on to rue the error as Pandey went on a six-hitting spree, with not even Malinga being spared.

Pandey predominantly targeted the long-on and deep mid-wicket ropes but occasionally also went through third-man with ramps and delicate steers. The best was saved for the last, when Pandey hammered Mitchell McClenaghan for two fours and two sixes in a 23-run final over.

As things turned out, it wasn’t enough in the end for Kolkata. And to make matters worse, they might have to sleep over the fitness of Chris Lynn, who hurt his left shoulder while attempting to catch Buttler, running back from mid-off.

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