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IPL 8: Pollard-Pandya help MI beat KKR to keep playoff hopes alive

Mumbai Indians stayed on course for a play-off berth after pulling off a narrow five-run win over defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders in a nerve-wracking last-over IPL thriller

Yusuf Pathan left the team hotel a couple of hours before Kolkata Knight Riders were scheduled to leave for the Wankhede Stadium. The big-hitting star all-rounder had a good three-hour batting practice before taking on Mumbai Indians on Thursday.

The extra practice session almost worked magic for KKR as he was dismissed in the final over for 52 off 37 balls with the visitors eventually losing by five runs.

The narrow win keeps Mumbai Indians’ play-offs hope alive as they successfully defended their total of 171-4, thanks to a late surge from Hardik Pandya, who scored a 31-ball 61. KKR, meanwhile, will have to win their next match against Rajasthan Royals to secure qualification.

Yusuf Pathan
Yusuf Pathan of Kolkata Knight Riders plays a shot against Mumbai Indians in Mumbai on Thursday. Pic/PTI

Skipper Gautam Gambhir (38) and Pathan kept KKR’s chase on track despite losing Robin Uthappa (25) and Manish Pandey (run out on 1) in Harbhajan Singh’s first over. The duo put on a vital 42-run partnership before Gambhir, who was dropped off the previous ball, was scalped by Jagadeesha Suchith.

With 50 required off the last five overs, MI came back in the game with a wicket each in the 15th  (Shakib Al Hasan) and 16th over (Andre Russell).

With 21 needed off 12 balls, Pathan slammed a huge six over midwicket as KKR took nine runs off Lasith Malinga’s over to bring down the equation to 12 off the last over.

Kieron Pollard, who last bowled in the game against Kings XI Punjab on May 3, dismissed Pathan on the first ball as KKR could manage only six runs off it.

Earlier, Hardik Pandya blitzed his way to an unbeaten 61 as Mumbai Indians recovered from a poor start to post a competitive 171 for four.

Pandya, who came after the fall of captain Rohit Sharma, slammed 2 sixes and 8 fours in his 31-ball whirlwind knock and added an unbroken 92 runs in 51 balls for the fifth wicket with Pollard (33 not out) to resurrect Mumbai after they were reduced to 79-4 in 11.4 overs.

Put in to bat, MI were put on the back foot within the power play period when they lost both openers Parthiv Patel (21) and Lendl Simmons (14). 

After the rare failure of the consistent Ambati Rayudu that left MI at a difficult 47 for 3, Sharma and West Indian Pollard did some repair work but the dismissal of the captain put the brakes again.

But Pandya took the KKR bowling by the scruff and smashed the ball around. He struck Umesh Yadav for four fours in the 17th over before reaching his half century with a six off Andre Russell in 25 balls.

Former Bangladesh captain Shakib Al Hasan, returning to the tournament after a month's gap because of national duty, did the star turn for the defending champions with a two-wicket haul for 22 with his crafty left-arm spin.

South African Morne Morkel (1 for 27) and Narine (1 for 38) were the other wicket takers.

Openers Patel and Simmons started steadily before Shakib drew first blood by taking out the former who was caught flicking at deep mid wicket. 

Left-handed Patel, who made a brisk 21 off 14 balls, hit the slow bowler for a four but departed off the next as his flick did not have the power to go over Manish Pandey.

Simmons, who played very well in making a fine 68 in the previous game here against Royal Challengers Bangalore, could not repeat the feat and was also out cheaply, caught at point while slashing Morkel's short ball to leave MI at 42 for 2 with two balls remaining in power play.

More trouble lay in store for MI as the consistent Rayudu too played a poor shot off Shakib and was caught in the deep, leaving the hosts at a poor 47 for 3 in the 8th over. 

Captain Sharma and Pollard took the score to 79 with the former looking in good nick when mystery West Indian spinner Narine struck a major blow by clean bowling Sharma.

Sharma, who had square cut the previous ball for a four, had no clue of the next ball as he played defensively down the wrong line and got cleaned up. He made 30 off 21 balls laced with five hits to the fence.

Pollard and Pandya then came together to MI's rescue. The latter reached his half century with a six over mid wicket off Russell. KKR, playing with three spinners, made optimum use of the depth in their bowling as Pollard took 10 balls to get off the mark. The 58-ball gap between MI’s first six (hit by Simmons) and the next one (hit by Pollard) was further proof of KKR’s tight bowling.

However, Umesh Yadav spoilt all the good work by conceding 18 runs in his second over where Pandya slammed four consecutive boundaries. Pandya then slammed two fours and a six off Russell to take 17 runs off the penultimate over.

The last five overs yielded 72 runs.

(With agency inputs)

Brief Score:
Mumbai Indians: 171 for 4 in 20 overs (Hardik Pandya 61; Shakib Al Hasan 2/22).
Kolkata Knight Riders: 166 for 7 in 20 overs (Yusuf Pathan 52; K Pollard 1/6). 

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