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Mumbai steal a cliffhanger

Sachin Tendulkar's team set up a rematch with Kolkata Knight Riders in Mumbai, reports Nikhilesh Bhattacharya. Scorecard

india Updated: May 23, 2011 02:50 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya

The Knight Riders of old were famous for letting opportunities slip through their fingers. The batch of 2011, too, let a golden opportunity go on Sunday.

While the top four had already been decided, Chennai Super Kings' loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore in Sunday's early match made the rest of the calculation clearer. Shah Rukh Khan's team only needed to beat Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens to pip CSK on net run rate and finish second, behind the Royal Challengers.

In the newly introduced playoffs that have replaced the semi-finals of earlier editions, the teams that finish first and second in the league stage get two opportunities to make the final.

All in vain
Gautam Gambhir and his men did everything right for 19 overs before L Balaji leaked 23 runs in the final over to hand Mumbai Indians an unlikely win. After New Zealander James Franklin used a combination of edges and brute force to score 17 from five deliveries, Ambati Rayudu hoicked a full toss into the stands beyond square leg to seal the deal.

The Mumbai Indians needed 21 from the last over, but got two more.

Next up is a rematch at the Wankhede on Wednesday, with the loser dumped from the tournament and the winner needing to win two more matches in a row to lift the trophy.

The new-look Knight Riders have already achieved more than their predecessors, who never progressed beyond the group stages.

But how they come back from this heartbreak will decide where they finish IPL 4.

Good batting
Earlier, the Knight Riders' batting looked in good order.

Skipper Gautam Gambhir fell cheaply, but opener Jacques Kallis played the anchor role to perfection.

Initially the South African allowed his partners to go after the bowling, something that Manoj Tiwary and Yusuf Pathan did rather well.

Tiwary was using the angles intelligently until a direct throw from Harbhajan Singh caught him short, while Patahn bashed the bowling as only he can. Once they were out, Kallis unfurled three big sixes to get to his fifty before holing out.

That was not all. Ryan ten Doeschate may play an important role for the Knight Riders in the playoffs given that England have picked Eoin Morgan for the Test series against Sri Lanka at home. The South African with a Dutch passport got a hit on Sunday and blasted some quick runs, including a flicked six off Lasith Malinga.

It was not quite enough though in the end.