Karn Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah picked up their best T20 bowling figures on the same day, combining to take 7 for 23 in seven overs to lift Mumbai Indians into their fourth IPL final with a six-wicket win against Kolkata Knight Riders.
Sent in to bat on another difficult Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch, Knight Riders succumbed to some excellent bowling plans to slump to 31 for 5 in seven overs. A 56-run sixth-wicket partnership between Suryakumar Yadav and Ishank Jaggi ensured they would get past their lowest-ever total – 67, against the same opponents, back in 2008 – but their eventual total of 107 was never going to present Mumbai Indians a genuine challenge.
Mumbai lost three wickets inside their Powerplay, before Krunal Pandya and Rohit Sharma steadied the chase with a 54-run stand. Krunal remained unbeaten on 45 off 30 balls as Mumbai got home with 33 balls remaining.
Mumbai are among the best teams in the IPL at drawing up strategies against individual players. They went on to prove this in the Powerplay.
Bumrah had never taken the new ball before this season, but he did so today. There seemed to be a reason for this – his exaggerated angle into the right-hander and the bit of extra bounce off his high-arm action can make it hard to hit down the ground. Down the ground is Chris Lynn’s go-to area, and even the presence of a fielder at long-on did not deter him – he only managed to pick him out, though, making contact with the ball off the high part of his bat.
The exaggerated inward angle also did for Robin Uthappa, who has a pronounced tendency to plant his front leg across and play around his front pad. Bumrah, bowling a second over inside the Powerplay for only the third time this season, slipped one in nice and full, beat his inside edge, and pinged his front pad.
In between, Karn took out Sunil Narine. Before this match, Narine had scored the bulk of his runs through mid-off, at a blistering pace: 78 – 36.45% of his 214 this season – off 24 balls. Mumbai had made note of this even in the previous meeting between these sides at the Eden Gardens, stationing a man at long-off and getting their quicks to deny him the drive. He fell for a four-ball duck in that game, skying a back-of-a-length offcutter from Tim Southee to extra-cover.
This time, following broadly similar plans, Mitchell Johnson, Bumrah and Lasith Malinga gave him only 10 from seven balls – with six coming off one hit over square leg – before Karn came on to bowl the fifth over. The legspinner made a conscious effort to deny Narine swinging room, bowling at pads instead, and gave up only a leg-bye off two balls before he came back on strike. Frustrated, he ran down the pitch and was stumped slogging at the perfectly-pitched googly.
Two more fell in Karn’s next over, the seventh of Knight Riders’ innings. Gambhir picked out deep midwicket and Colin de Grandhomme, camped in his crease to a googly he didn’t pick, was rapped on the back pad. Knight Riders were 31 for 5.
Suryakumar and Jaggi stemmed the fall of wickets, but runs continued to trickle. By the end of the 12th over, Knight Riders were only 61 for 5. Then Suryakumar swept Krunal to the square-leg boundary and followed up by lifting him inside-out over extra-cover. Jaggi, who had been scoring at well below a run a ball till that point, also got into the act, whipping Malinga for two leg-side fours in the next over. Knight Riders made 22 off the 13th and 14th overs, but they were taking risks in order to score that quickly. Karn came back to bowl the 15th over, and Jaggi, getting too close to the pitch of the ball, whipped him straight to long-on.
There was no real batting to follow, and Knight Riders only added 19 while losing their four remaining wickets, leaving seven balls unused. Johnson picked up two in the 17th over, Bumrah got his third in the 18th, and Malinga finished off the innings with a trademark dipping slower ball in the 19th.
Mumbai only needed one partnership, and they got that courtesy Krunal and Rohit. They lost three wickets before that, though, two to Piyush Chawla. Like Karn, Chawla enjoyed the amount of grip he was getting off the surface; he foxed Lendl Simmons with a googly in the second over, and then bowled Ambati Rayudu after spinning a legbreak past his outside edge. In between, Parthiv Patel, who had hit three fours in racing to 14, top-edged Umesh Yadav to the keeper.
Right from the time he walked in, there was a sense of awareness about Krunal’s batting. His first four was a paddle-sweep through the vacant short fine-leg area – Narine had moved that fielder to slip in a bid for wickets – and showed ample signs that he was picking the Trinidadian’s variations out of his hand, picking up two fours in the 12th over – a dab to fine third man and a chip over the covers.
Rohit pulled Nathan Coulter-Nile straight to deep square leg in the 13th over, but by then Mumbai only needed 20, off 46 balls. They would only need 13. (Courtesy ESPN Cricinfo)