Kolkata Knight Riders' fairytale start to the third season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), with wins over Deccan Chargers and Royal Challengers Bangalore, looked a distant memory as they crashed to their third consecutive defeat last night, falling to the Mumbai Indians by seven wickets. The Knight Riders, who have never beaten Mumbai in the IPL, won the toss and scratched around for 155 for three before the home side raced away to victory in 18.3 overs, with Sachin Tendulkar (71 not out) leading the run-chase.
The visitors looked bereft of ideas after the demoralising defeat in the last game, while the Indians had come out with a plan, which the bowlers implemented superbly, peppering the batsmen with toe-crushing yorkers at will. Lasith Malinga was a mystery for Sourav Ganguly (31) and Chris Gayle (75) with his clever change of pace; his fellow pacemen, Zaheer Khan, Ryan McLaren and Dwayne Bravo hit the toes with regularity while Harbhajan Singh cramped them for space.
"I was just looking to bowl wicket-to-wicket," said Harbhajan. "I wanted to bowl full because this is a good wicket. In the last match, whatever flighted deliveries I bowled went out of the ground. So I was just looking at the batsmen's feet and trying to follow him." Stifled by the leg-side line, Gayle failed to flourish early on. He had scored just 42 from his first 45 balls and Kolkata were 102 for one from 15 overs. There was a stretch of six overs - from the eighth to the 14th - without a single boundary.
Gayle, however, broke through the shackles in the 16th over, hitting Zaheer for consecutive boundaries to reach his half-century and then followed it up with a six. Runs came a lot easier thereafter and 53 more were added in the last five overs to give the Kolkata score some respectability. "We discussed a few players and Gayle was one of them," said the opening batsman, Sanath Jayasuriya, who was rested for the game. "We have a few West Indian players in our teams and they had a few things to say.
"Our plan was to keep it tight for the first six overs and Lasith Malinga did really well. He was fantastic with his variations and change of pace, and the other bowlers also did a great job." With Jayasuriya sitting out, Tendulkar opened the innings with the left-handed Shikhar Dhawan as the Indians were off to a flier. Dhawan smashed the fast bowler, Shane Bond for three boundaries in the first over and Tendulkar gave the same treatment to Ishant Sharma. The team fifty was up in just 4.2 overs - fastest in the IPL - and the Indians were on their way to a third win. @Email:email@example.com
Kolkata Knight Riders: Chris Gayle lbw Khan 75 Sourav Ganguly b Harbhajan 31 Owais Shah b Khan 31 Angelo Mathews not out 3 Extras (b6, lb3, w6) 15 Total (for 3 wickets, 20 overs) 155 Fall of wickets: 1-70, 2-152, 3-155 Bowling: Lasith Malinga 4-0-28-0 Zaheer Khan 4-0-27-2 Ryan McLaren 4-0-38-0 Dwayne Bravo 4-0-36-0 Harbhajan Singh 4-0-17-1 Mumbai Indians: Shikhar Dhawan c Ganguly b Kartik 23 Sachin Tendulkar not out 71 Saurabh Tiwary c Ganguly b Sharma 30 Keiron Pollard lbw Sharma 7 R Sathish not out 21 Extras (w 4) 4 Total (for 3 wickets, 18.3 overs) 156 Fall of wickets: 1-61, 2-117, 3-129 Bowling: Shane Bond 3-0-31-0 Ishant Sharma 4-0-44-2 Chris Gayle 4-0-31-0 Murali Kartik 4-0-21-1 Angelo Mathews 3.3-0-29-0