Kolkata: Defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders made the right start to Indian Premier League-8 with a seven-wicket victory over their Eden Gardens nemesis Mumbai Indians yesterday.
Manish Pandey. Pic/PTI
Skipper Gautam Gambhir helped himself to his 24th IPL fifty but it was the batting of two youngsters Manish Pandey and Suryakumar Yadav that would have warmed his heart.
The top-order deliverance upstaged MI skipper Rohit Sharma's unbeaten 98. Rohit, who has had some standout performances at the ground, played another crucial innings, holding up one end as MI lost early wickets before that signature smooth accelleration.
Kiwi all-rounder Corey Anderson, who joined him at a precarious 37 for 3, stayed unbeaten 55 as the two added 131 in 88 balls for the unbroken fourth-wicket stand. A whopping 88 runs were added in the last six overs.
Sunil Narine, coming back with a remodelled bowling action, made a nervous start, his first ball a full toss that Rohit despatched to the cover fence, but the West Indies soon did enough to suggest he will be a KKR hit-man again. But it was Morne Morkel who impressed the most on the day.
KKR too had to recover from an early loss, Robin Uthappa guiding Anderson to Harbhajan at slips in the third over. Manish Pandey, Man of the Final last year, brought a sense of urgency to the chase and the two added 85 in 9.1 overs for the second wicket. Dropped on 28 at long-off by Anderson, Pandey scored a typically 24-ball 40 before holing out to long-on. The second wicket had added 85 runs in 55 deliveries.
Suryakumar Yadav, who like Pandey, had played a good hand in KKR's title-triumph last season, flicked the first ball he faced for a six. With skipper Gambhir carving fours through the offside gaps, the momentum was maintained.
After Gambhir, who completed his 24th IPL fifty, fell to the pace of young Jasprit Bumrah, Yusuf Pathan and Yadav saw them get over the finishing line smoothly. Yadav remained unbeaten on a 20-ball 40.