You probably won’t remember the last time Kolkata Knight Riders lost a match? Yet there was a time they could do nothing right. That seems somewhere in the distant past. At their home ground in Kolkata, they sauntered to the target of 169 against Mumbai Indians.
The vastly-improved Suryakumar Yadav – he smashed a 20-ball 46 (five sixes, one four), Gautam Gambhir (57) and Manish Pandey (40) were the architects of KKR’s win.
It’s not often that the Knights have the better of Mumbai Indians, but this is a different Kolkata unit, so high in self-belief.
When KKR took the field, they looked every inch the defending champions. Sunil Narine’s remodelled action may have been the focus, but Morne Morkel eclipsed him with an outstanding spell (4-1-18-2). However, Morkel’s brilliance proved insufficient in the end as Kolkata Knight Riders failed to rein in Mumbai Indians after making a sound start in the competition opener at Eden Gardens last night.
Rohit Sharma, ever KKR’s tormentor, cracked a majestic, unbeaten 98 to prop his team to 168 for three after Knights had stifled the visitors to 37 for three in six overs, thanks largely to Morkel, who had been generating disconcerting bounce.
Corey Anderson complemented his skipper with a belligerent 41-ball 55.
Morkel had Aaron Finch top-edge a pull, which Umesh Yadav cupped comfortably at fine-leg. Later, Rayudu attempted to steer a rising delivery from Morkel to third man but only edged it to slip.
Gambhir used up all of Morkel’s four overs early and Rohit was only too happy to see the South African off.
He would probably want to carry a pinch of the Eden Garden soil wherever he travels. He scored a century there on his Test debut in 2013 against the West Indies and a world-best individual ODI score of 264 against Sri Lanka last November.
KKR perhaps also remember him smashing a 60-ball 109 against them on this very ground in 2012. Last night, Rohit carted Yadav repeatedly through the off-side and never allowed Shakib to settle in. His knock was studded with 12 fours and four towering sixes.
How did Narine fare? It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that he had been KKR’s nerve centre. If it’s IPL, the indecipherable Narine was worth giving an arm for. But will he be the same Narine after the remodelled action?
Narine was never a prodigious spinner. Quick spin and a whole hog of variations – doosra, carrom balls, topspinner – all bowled with the same grip were his forte.
Narine’s returned fairly laudable figures (4-0-28) but he wasn’t quite the bowler we know him to be. The straight arm had reduced his effectiveness, and he actually looked more of a containing medium-pacer.
Rohit flayed him through the off-side in his first over, always appearing at ease facing him. Anderson and Rohit plundered Yadav and Shakib – both the bowlers had an economy rate of 12 – as MI upped the gear. KKR were pretty ordinary in the field. Andre Russell dropped Anderson on 23, a regulation chance at mid-on, while wicketkeeper Robin Uthappa not only missed an outside edge of Rohit but also fluffed a stumping when he was on 70.