Rohit guides Mumbai home

Rohit guides Mumbai home

Skipper slams unbeaten 84 as champions down Knight Riders by 6 wickets

Rohit guides Mumbai home

Skipper Rohit Sharma led from the front with a sparkling 84 as an inspired Mumbai Indians cruised to a six-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders to open their account in the ninth season of Indian Premier League here on Wednesday.

Chasing a challenging target of 188, Jos Buttler made it look easier, smashing his way to 41 off mere 22 balls and helped Mumbai Indians chase down the target with five balls to spare at the Eden Gardens.

Having stayed till the end, Sharma got his runs off just 54 balls, hitting 10 fours and two sixes in the process. At a venue where he’s enjoyed batting, Sharma did not put a wrong foot and looked in imperious form.
Gambhir struggled to contain Sharma as he dissected the field with ease while the likes of Buttler (3x4, 3x6) and Mitchell McClenaghan (20 from eight balls; 3x6) put on useful partnerships.

There was a time when Mumbai were in a spot with 101 required from 59 balls as KKR kept on attacking with their spin strategy.

In a tactical masterstroke, Mumbai’s think-tank promoted the left-handed McClenaghan who turned it around with two successive sixes against Chawla and followed that up with another slog against rookie Kuldeep Yadav.

The cameo brought the required run-rate down and calmed Sharma’s nerves.After Buttler’s departure in the third ball of the penultimate over, Sharma hit Russell for three boundaries in succession to make it one from the last over, a formality West Indian Kieron Pollard completed to bring the defending champions’ campaign back on track.

With six away games awaiting them, it’s a disappointing loss for Kolkata Knight Riders, who surprised by preferring young Indian chinaman Kuldeep Yadav over ace spinner Sunil Narine, who joined the squad on Tuesday and was rested.

Earlier, half centuries from skipper Gautam Gambhir and Manish Pandey lifted Kolkata Knight Riders to 187 for five.

Gambhir led by example with 64 from 52 balls (4x4, 1x6) and the skipper got fine support from the talented Pandey, who scored a rollicking 52 from 29 balls, to get the momentum going with a 100-run partnership from just 60 balls.

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