Kochi strangle KKR; Mumbai survive Pune scare

21 Apr 2011 by Raj in IPL 2011

Kochi Tuskers Kerala 132 for 7 beat Kolkata Knight Riders 126 for 9 by six runs

Kochi Tuskers Kerala managed to outshine the Kolkata Knight Riders in a game the latter would have expected to win but did not since the opposition had a bagful of tricks on a surface that suited them more than KKR. The slow Eden Gardens wicket saw Kolkata spinners Yusuf Pathan and Shakib Al Hasan combine to keep Kochi down to an extremely manageable 132 as both picked up three wickets each. However, even though Kochi’s tweakers, the spin trio of Muttiah Muralitharan, Ramesh Powar and Ravindra Jadeja did not get as many wickets, they proved to be equally hard to get away and in the end throttled the Knight Riders by six runs.

In the end, Kochi overall bowling performance outdid the Kolkata batsman. While for Kolkata Brett Lee and Laxmipathy Balaji picked up only a solitary wicket between them, with the former also going for a few runs, the Kochi pacers were far more effective and successful too. While R. Vinay Kumar got Jacques Kallis with a shorter one, which the latter hooked but straight to the fielder, skipper Gautam Gambhir was cleaned up by a fuller length delivery from R P Singh. Despite the modest target, 27 for 2 in the 5th over with two of their main batsmen gone was not the kind of start KKR needed. And it only was to get worse.

Manvinder Bisla, who was proved that he can be quite a handy bat at the top, perished trying to take on Ravindra Jadeja, as he was clean bowled while missing a drive. The much needed partnership at last developed for Kolkata when Manoj Tiwary and Eoin Morgan joined forces. However, even as they went about the rescue mission, they found the going extremely tough against the spinning trio. Muralitharan was back at his wily best, Jadeja stuck to his strength of not giving the ball any air while Powar did exactly the opposite.

As it often happens in such a pressure situation, a wicket fell courtesy a run out. Morgan, normally a quick runner between wickets, went for a single which was never there and Jayawardene scored with a direct hit to push Kolkata into further trouble at 73 for 4 in the 13th over. It was now left to Manoj Tiwary to take the game into the Kochi camp. Tiwary played his part by flaying RP Singh for a couple of boundaries, but Singh got Shakib at the other end, the Bangladesh skipper missing a low full toss, to keep Kochi ahead of the race.

Along with Tiwary, Yusuf was KKR’s last hope. The latter was batting down the order following an injury he picked up in the field. However, the big hitter couldn’t work any wonders. His slammed his customary six over cow corner off Powar, but in Shahid Afridi-fashion tried to repeat the stroke and perished to the same bowler the very next ball. Left all alone and with the run rate mounting, Tiwary was forced to take on Jadeja, but only managed to get himself stumped down the leg side.

Iqbal Abdulla and Rajat Bhatia threw their bats around and kept KKR’s hopes alive faintly. But Vinay Kumar bowled a smart last over, most of the slower balls, to keep KKR in check. All this was after Shakib and Pathan had restricted Kochi to 132. Brendon McCullum and Jayawardene got starts, but failed to go on. The middle order capitulated and it was only a late burst of 29 from Jadeja, inclusive of three sixes, that got them to 132. It did not seem enough at the halfway mark. But, the Kochi bowlers did enough to ensure it was.

Mumbai Indians 124 for 3 beat Pune Warriors 118 by seven wickets

A poor batting performance by the Pune Warriors put paid to their hopes of pulling off another upset, against the Mumbai Indians, as they went down to Sachin Tendulkar’s men by seven wickets, off the last ball of the match at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. They managed a miserable 118, getting bowled out inside 18 overs. Things could have been even more worse for the Warriors had Robin Uthappa not chipped in with a 35-ball 47. But, even Uthappa’s effort did not nothing more than lend a semblance of respectability to the Warriors’ total. Mumbai did make heavy weather of the chase, but in the end the Warriors’ total was just not good enough.

Mumbai opened the bowling with the spin of left-armer Ali Murtaza, which clearly caught the Warriors off guard. The openers just could not get away and, as a results, the wickets started falling soon. Abu Nechim got rid of Jesse Ryder and Mithun Manhas while Munaf Patel chipped in with the big wickets of Tim Paine and Yuvraj Singh. In the fifth over of the game, the Warriors had slumped to 17 for 4 and there was no way back from there.

Things could have been worse for Pune had Andrew Symonds managed to disturb the stumps with an underarm throw when Uthappa was dangling out of his crease. Thanks to the reprieve, Warriors managed to stage a fightbacj of sorts. Uthappa took on the medium pace of Kieron Pollard and James Franklin and added some easy boundaries, and there were some free hits too. Wickets continued to fall at the other end though as Murtaza and Lasith Malinga combined to pick up a couple of wickets each. Having no option, Uthappa also fell going for a big stroke in the 15th over. Despite his knock, the Warriors had only managed 98 when he was dismissed, such was the extent of damage done in the earlier overs.

With no pressure on them at all, Sachin Tendulkar and Ambati Rayudu went about their task in an easy manner after the experiment with James Franklin at the top failed. Tendulkar and Rayudu combined to add 74 for the second wicket. Both fell when the game was well within striking distance, reducing the run rate. Rohit Sharma and Andrew Symonds combined to tick down the remaining runs. But, for sure, Mumbai would not have wanted the game to go down to the last ball as it did. In a somewhat dramatic fashion Murali Kartik was slammed for six off the last ball of the match to bring the curtains down on what should have been a one-sided game and was but for the fact that Mumbai weren’t proactive. Still, it was a game Pune deserved to lose and they did.

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