Being the final game of the season at the Wankhede, the onus was on Mumbai Indians to make it memorable for their fans.
However, there was little to cheer for in the first half on account of an insipid fielding performance. Three simple catches were put down by the Mumbai fielders and Kolkata Knight Riders were never under pressure.
Usually, it’s difficult to recover from such a poor effort. To the delight of the home fans, captain Rohit Sharma came to the party and continued his domination of the KKR bowlers. Picking up from where he left off in the first-leg game at Eden Gardens, where he made an unbeaten 84, Rohit anchored the chase with an unbeaten 68.
Having finished their first round of seven games with just three wins, Mumbai are left with a lot of ground to cover and the captain knew he couldn’t afford another slip up. In the end, Kieron Pollard made it a cakewalk with a 17-ball 51 as Mumbai cantered home with six wickets to spare for their fourth win.
The platform of KKR’s total of 174 for five was set by their whirlwind batting in the power-play overs. In contrast, the home team started disastrously. The last game’s highest scorer, Parthiv Patel, was out for one. However, the KKR team management knew the main threat was from Rohit.
The captain had single-handedly led the chase of a target of 180-plus in their first skirmish, and it was evident again on Thursday.
With Ambati Rayudu’s support, Rohit ensured that Mumbai made full use of the power-play overs. At the end of the six overs of field restrictions, Mumbai had raced to 64 for one with Rohit on 30 and Rayudu on 31. They were particularly severe on left-arm pacer Jaydev Unadkat, taking 19 runs off his second over.
With a run rate of 10.66, the need was to keep wickets and consolidate. However, things started to go awry as Rayudu was out at 67.
Rohit needed someone to chip away at the other end. His decision to call for left-hander Krunal Pandya didn’t click and in the next four overs Mumbai added just 21.
At the end of 10 overs, the equation was down to 90 off 60 balls. Rohit soaked in the pressure and it was anybody’s game at the end of the 15th over, with 49 needed off 30 balls. That was till Pollard delivered the knockout punch.
The pick of the KKR bowlers was Sunil Narine. He showed that he remained as effective with his new action, bowling his first three overs for 15 runs while picking up two top-order wickets.