Jacques Kallis and Manish Pandey hit fifties as Kolkata Knight Riders began their IPL 7 in style, beating defending champions Mumbai Indians by 41 runs at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium on Wednesday. Chasing 164 to win in the tournament opener, MI could only go as far as 122 for 7.
Opener Aditya Tare played some attractive shots before his partner Michael Hussey lost his stumps to West Indies mystery spinner Sunil Narine for three with 24 runs on the board in the fifth over.
Ambati Rayudu joined Tare at the crease but both failed to score quick runs amid some excellent bowling from KKR. Tare, with the asking rate creeping up, got out in a very tame manner, giving a simple return to Bangladesh allrounder Shakib Al Hasan for 24 off 22 balls.
MI captain Rohit Sharma and Rayudu got up a 61-run stand to bring the team back into the hunt. However, just when it appeared Rohit would take the match away from KKR, an excellent catch from Jacques Kallis at deep midwicket sent him back to the pavilion for 27 off the bowling of Morne Morkel in the 16th over.
Rayudu’s wicket off the first ball of the next over bowled by Narine for 48 put KKR in the ascendancy. Allrounders Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson, the fastest man to have an ODI ton, tried to hit big but KKR’s bowlers gave them no room to do that.
Narine bowled Anderson and Harbhajan Singh in the 19th over to become the fastest to take 50 wickets in IPL history, taking just 32 matches. Narine finished with 4 for 20.
Earlier, electing to bat on a pitch where the ball was holding a bit, KKR lost captain Gautam Gambhir early. The left-hander looked woefully out of form before a Lasith Malinga yorker cleaned him up for 0.
Pandey, one of the few players to have an IPL ton to his name, joined Kallis at the crease and KKR’s repair work began. While Kallis was cautious in his approach, Pandey had no qualms going for big shots. With just 10 runs on the board after three overs, Pandey hit Anderson for a four and six off the successive balls of the fourth over to give some buoyancy to the innings.
KKR reached 50 in the ninth over and the stage was set for some big shots. Things could have been very different for Gambhir’s men had Malinga, fielding at short fine leg, taken a simple catch from Kallis on 34 off the bowling of Pollard.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha paid for Malinga’s drop in the very next over as Kallis hit him for two sixes and a four. Kallis’s assault continued in the next over too as he got two fours off Pollard. Ojha and Pollard’s overs yielded 35 runs and KKR looked on course for a daunting total.
However, Malinga returned and redeemed himself quite a bit at the death. Over the course of his last 12 balls, he removed Pandey (64 off 53 balls, 6x4s, 2x6s), Kallis (72 off 46 balls, 5x4s, 3x6s) and Shakib (1) at the expense of just 15 runs. Those two overs halted KKR’s progress a great deal.
In KKR’s crying need for big runs, Suryakumar Yadav (13*) hit Anderson for three fours in the space of four balls in the last over to take them to a very competitive 163.
Brief score: KKR 163 for 5 in 20 overs (Kallis 72, Pandey 64; Malinga 4 for 23) beat MI 122 for 7 in 20 overs (Rayudu 48, Rohit 27; Narine 4 for 20) by 41 runs.