KKR rode on a brilliant half-century by skipper Gautam Gambhir and a fine knock by Suryakumar Yadav to beat Mumbai Indians by seven wickets in their IPL tie to begin their title defence with a win
Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders launched their title defence on a perfect note as skipper Gautam Gambhir and Suryakumar Yadav drove them to a seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indians in the IPL-8 T20 cricket tournament opener here today.
Chasing 169 for a win, Gambhir's 43-ball 57 (7x4, 1x6) led the KKR charge, while Suryakumar's unbeaten 46 off 20 deliveries helped them canter to their target in 18.3 overs.
KKR batsman Surya Kumar Yadav celebrates after hitting the winning shot during their IPL-2015 match against Mumbai Indians at Eden Garden in Kolkata on Wednesday. Pic/PTI
But it was the 85-run second wicket partnership between Gambhir and No.3 Manish Pandey (40) that set up the chase.
There was some respite after the visitors dismissed the duo but ironically they found their nemesis in a familiar Mumbaikar Suryakumar, who led Mumbai in Ranji Trophy this season.
The talented youngster, who came in at 121/3 with 48 required from 34 balls, hit some sensational shots that included a four and 5 sixes. Yusuf Pathan was also unbeaten on 14.
Corey Anderson, Jasprit Bumrah and Harbhajan Singh picked up a wicket each.
Earlier, riding on a brilliant unbeaten 98 by skipper Rohit Sharma, Mumbai Indians scored 168/3.
Put in to bat first, Mumbai overcame initial hiccups to set the Knights a challenging asking rate of 8.45 runs per over.
In trouble at 37/3 in the sixth over, MI took the battle into the opposition camp with the elegant Rohit (65b, 12x4, 4x6) stitching an unbeaten 131-run partnership with Corey Anderson 55 (41b, 4x4, 3x6) before a 50,000 plus crowd.
Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma plays a shot during his unbeaten knock of 98 against KKR at Eden Garden in Kolkata on Wednesday. Pic/PTI
The Knights drew first blood in the second over when big hitting opener Aaron Finch 7 (7b 1x4) top edged, giving South African pacer Morne Morkel his first wicket.
Continuing his good run at the hallowed stadium where he had scored a record shattering 264 while playing for India in November, Rohit looked unfazed as he creamed Umesh Yadav for three boundaries, attracting loud cheers from the crowd.
The joy though was short-lived as wicket keeper-batsman Aditya Tare (7) perished in the deep trying to hit Sakib Al Hasan for a six in the fifth over.
Bowling a fiery spell, Morkel then removed Ambati Rayudu (0) in the next over as the visitors' innings seemed to be tottering.
Endeavouring to tighten their grip, Knight skipper Gautam Gambhir summoned his trump card Sunil Narine, who bowled with a remodelled action, and seemed to have settled down after conceding a four in his very first ball.
Joining hands with Corey Anderson, Rohit consolidated the innings taking Mumbai past 50 in the ninth over as Gambhir juggled around his bowlers.
Starting to cut loose, Rohit clobbered Yadav for 18 runs including a towering six to score his 22nd half century in the IPL and taking Mumbai past 100 in the 15th over.
As Anderson and Rohit upped the ante, the pressure on the home team was evident, and they spilled three catches. Anderson was the beneficiary twice.
Cutting and pulling with ease, Rohit was at his best as Kolkata bowlers struggled to contain the flow of runs.
For the hosts, Morkel was the pick of the bowlers with 2/18 while Shakib Al Hasan 1/48 was the other wicket taker.
Mumbai Indians: 168/3 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 98 not out, Corey Anderson 55 not out; Morne Morkel 4-18)
Kolkata Knight Riders: 170/3 out in 18.3 overs (Gautam Gambhir 57, Manish Pandey 40, Suryakumar Yadav 46 not out; Harbhajan Singh 1-38).