By Debdoot Das
Kolkata, April 13 (IANS) Rohit Sharma’s love affair with Eden Gardens continued as he smashed an unbeaten 84 to power Mumbai Indians to a six-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter here on Wednesday.
Jos Buttler with a quickfire 22-ball 41 was the other major contributor.
For KKR, Andre Russell, Piyush Chawla and Kuldeep Yadav picked up a wicket each.
The defending champions started off at a brisk pace chasing KKR’s challenging 187/5 with Rohit and Parthiv Patel picking the gaps at will.
By the end of the powerplay, the score read 53/1. But then Brad Hogg effected a brilliant run-out and sent back Parthiv to the dugout much to the delight of the 35,000-odd fans in the stadium.
The wicket also helped KKR bring down the run rate.
Thereafter, some silly errors from wicket-keeper Robin Uthappa helped the visitors. Mumbai Indians got to 87/1 at the end of 10 overs.
KKR then got rid of Hardik Pandya (9)and Mitchell McClenaghan (20) in quick succession as they tried to slowly crawl their way back into the contest.
However, Buttler and Rohit had other ideas. The England power-hitter did not need a sighter and tonked the hapless KKR bowlers too all parts of the park. He also took on Andre Russell and clubbed him for 18 in an over.
The onslaught brought down the asking rate rapidly and before long Mumbai were in touching distance of the KKR total.
Earlier, fifties from Gautam Gambhir and Manish Pandey along with a quickfire 17-ball 36 from Andre Russell helped Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) post a challenging score.
Gambhir scored a 52-ball 64 and was ably supported by Pandey’s 52. For Mumbai, Mitchell McClenaghan returned figures of 2/25.
The hosts got off to a slow start and lost Robin Uthappa (8) early but then Pandey came out to give his skipper company and after six overs KKR had managed to put up 40/1 on the scoreboard.
Once in the groove, both batters successfully hit the big shots against the likes of off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and Hardik Pandya.
In the 11th over, Jagadeesha Suchith was taken for a ride as it yielded 18 runs — the biggest in the innings.
Gambhir, who was dropped at 30 by Rohit Sharma, then got to his half century. Pandey too got to his fifty as the Knights tried stepping on the gas.
But soon after, the men-in-purple lost Pandey who succumbed to a soft dismissal, caught and bowled by Harbhajan. The strike also ended the duo’s 100-run partnership.
Andre Russell who walked out to bat next started off with a bang. He almost hit sixes at will.
However, after a brief cameo, Russell dragged a pull on to his stumps and then KKR lost Gambhir, which helped Mumbai pull things back in the last few overs.
Brief Scores: Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) 187/5 (Gautam Gambhir 64, Manish Pandey 52; Mitchell McClenaghan 2/25) vs Mumbai Indians 188/4 (Rohit Sharma not out 84, Jos Buttler 41)
(Debdoot Das can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)