Mumbai Indians needed a miracle to dislodge Kolkata Knight Riders from sealing a play-offs berth on Friday. Ishan Kishan and Suryakumar Yadav’s batting spectacle in Abu Dhabi propelled the five-time champions to 235 for nine, their highest total in IPL. That though proved to be too little in the end. For Rohit Sharma’s men to advance, a second-string Sunrisers Hyderabad, led by Manish Pandey, had to be dismissed for 65 or less.
The bottom-placed side finally finished 42 runs short of the target, courtesy of Pandey’s unbeaten 69. By the time the last Powerplay over got over, Mumbai’s dreams lay shattered. The Knights had cruised into the playoffs as the fourth team. Sometimes an innings can do wonders for your confidence. Ask Kishan. The wicketkeeper-batter had been struggling to find a form with a mere 107 runs from eight matches in this IPL. He was dropped for two matches and when he returned against Rajasthan Royals, he excelled in his opening role — an unbeaten 50 off 25 balls.
He continued in the same vein on Friday, completing his half-century from just 16 balls. Only three other batters have done it off fewer balls in the IPL — KL Rahul (14 balls), Yusuf Pathan (15 balls), and Sunil Narine (15 balls). There was no surprise when Rohit won the toss and decided to bat. The openers got the innings off to a flyer, Kishan slog sweeping Mohammad Nabi’s second ball for a six. Four successive boundaries followed in the next over. There was no stopping Rohit and Kishan as Jason Holder went for 18 in and over. Kishan was severe on anything pitched short as he pulled with disdain — 52 of his runs coming in the arc between mid-wicket and long-on.
Runs came in a flurry as the Mumbai Indians batters dealt mostly in fours and sixes — 50 came up in 3.4 overs and 100 in 7.1. Kishan’s whirlwind 84 off 32 balls came to an end when he nicked one behind. While 65 of those runs came through the leg side, 19 were scored on the off, with 11 boundaries and four sixes.
Suryakumar took over from where Kishan had left. One of the prime factors why Mumbai Indians failed to make an impact was because of the failure of Kishan and Suryakumar, who had held the innings together on several occasions. While Kishan’s innings were about brute power and slogging, Suryakumar (82 off 40 balls) relied on flair and timing. Kishan and Suryakumar’s return to form may have come a bit late in the day for Mumbai Indians but it will serve as good news for Team India ahead of the T20 World Cup.
It was raining boundaries and sixes for Kishan in every over as MI raced to 78 runs in the first five overs. It looked like child’s play for Kishan as he clobbered Rashid over the deep midwicket to bring up the team’s 100 in 7.1 overs. Kishan finally departed in the 10th over when he top-edged an Umran Malik delivery to Wriddhiman Saha behind the stumps. After Kishan’s dismissal, SRH pulled things back, courtesy of some smart captaincy from Pandey, who replaced Kane Williamson out with an elbow niggle.
A courageous Pandey brought young left-arm spinner Sharma into the attack in the 13th over and the bowler reposed his captain’s faith by removing Kieron Pollard (12) and Neesham in the final two balls of the over to stand in a chance for a hat-trick. Yadav, who had not been at his best in the second leg so far, rose to the occasion when it mattered and took the onus of guiding MI innings after Kishan’s dismissal.