Theirs was definitely an odd combination. One seasoned and among the best in the world and the other just a promise that many hope he would deliver on one day. Together, Jacques Kallis and Manish Pandey weathered an early casualty and then reached moderately quick half-centuries to help Kolkata Knight Riders along to a competitive total.
In the end, the total their innings helped put up proved so crucial on a pitch where, despite a fair amount of grass cover in keeping with the diktat of the IPL management, the ball stopped and came.
Defending champions Mumbai Indians, despite Lasith Malinga’s sensational form which saw him finish with four for 23 could not respond when it came to the chase. This time, Caribbean spinner Sunil Narine turned the bowling hero once again for KKR, claiming 4 for 20 with Kallis’ Proteas team mate Morne Morkel strangling the MI batting line-up with a miserly spell.
KKR skipper Gautam Gambhir, hoping to get off the a flying start this season, fell to a Malinga yorker in the second over. The left-hander would like to forget the eight-ball duck at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in a hurry.
But Kallis and Pandey remained unseparated till the end of the 17th over, taking the total to 135 for 2.
The first sign of aggression from Pandey came in the fourth over bowled by Corey Anderson when he stepped out and played a double-handed forehand cross court kind of shot for four and then played the straightest of lofted drives for six. Fom that point to the end of the 14th over, during which Malinga put down the simplest of chances off Kallis at short third man -- he was on 34 -- things remained largely quiet, though the two did keep the run rate at over six an over.
Kallis then tore into Pragyan Ojha, who had bowled his first three overs for 16 runs, hitting through extra cover for four and then clearing the boundary at long-on and midwicket to collect 20 runs from one over. It didn’t appear, but Kallis was comfortably outscoring Pandey at this stage.
That onslaught altered the script and the boundaries flowed in the next few overs. Pandey (64 in 53 balls) and Kallis (72 in 46 balls) fell in quick succession and none among Robin Uthappa, Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan did anything of note as the old problem of a shaky middle-order returned. But Suryakumar Yadav’s last gasp salvo against Anderson, smacking three fours in the last over in a 13-run cameo pushed the score.
KKR’s tepid 31/1 at the end of Power Play was somewhat compensated as Mumbai conceded 73 runs in the last six overs. That blunted Malinga’s brilliant spell.
MI skipper Rohit Sharma did not come out to open, moving down to No 4, instead sending Aditya Tare with Mike Hussey to open. However, Hussey, in his first game for his new team, was foxed by a magical Narine delivery that hit middle stump. Ambati Rayudu dug in to top-score with 48, but the pressure KKR bowlers mounted told. Mumbai managed just two fours in the entire innings.
The Rohit-Rayudu partnership was threatening to blossom when Kallis proved his to pull off a catch to remove Rohit off Morkel.
With the asking rate around 10 runs per over, MI unleashed it’s most explosive pair Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson. But Narine asserted why he is the best in the death overs. Anderson, hoping for a smashing IPL debut, walked back as Narine slipped through his gate.
Mumbai Indians: Apoorv Wankhade, Michael Hussey, Rohit Sharma, Shreyas Gopal, Corey Anderson, Jalaj Saxena, Kieron Pollard, Aditya Tare, Ambati Rayudu, Ben Dunk, Chidhambaram Gautam, Sushant Marathe, Harbhajan Singh, Jasprit Bumrah, Josh Hazlewood, Krishmar Santokie, Lasith Malinga, Marchant de Lange, Pawan Suyal, Pragyan Ojha, Zaheer Khan
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Lynn, Debabrata Das, Gautam Gambhir, Manish Pandey, Suryakumar Yadav, Andre Russell, Jacques Kallis, Ryan ten Doeschate, Shakib Al Hasan, Yusuf Pathan, Manvinder Bisla, Robin Uthappa, Kuldeep Yadav, Morne Morkel, Pat Cummins, Piyush Chawla, Sayan Mondal, Sunil Narine, Umesh Yadav, Veer Pratap Singh, Vinay Kumar