IPL 2024: Venkatesh Iyer’s knock, superb bowling help KKR beat MI, seal Playoffs berth

Kolkata: Kolkata Knight Riders’ Harshit Rana celebrates the wicket of Mumbai Indians’ Tilak Varma during the IPL match between Kolkata Knight Riders and Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens, in Kolkata, Saturday, May 11, 2024. (Photo: IANS)

Kolkata, May 12 (IANS) A brilliant bowling effort led by spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine after Venkatesh Iyer’s blazing knock helped Kolkata Knight Riders beat Mumbai Indians by 18 runs and become the first team to qualify for the Playoffs in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 on Saturday.

With this win, Kolkata Knight Riders became the first team to secure their place in the Playoff, moving to 18 points from nine wins from 12 matches. This was their second win over MI this season, having beaten them at the Wankhede stadium a few days back.

In a match that started around 90 minutes late and was reduced to 16-overs-a-side because of rain, Kolkata Knight Riders were in trouble on two occasions but came back strongly both times to secure a memorable double victory over Mi this season.

Asked to bat first, KKR were in a precarious position at 40/3 in the fifth over before a brilliant rearguard innings by Venkatesh Iyer, who blasted a 21-bal 42 and shared a 37-run partnership for the fourth wicket with Nitish Rana (33). Crucial cameos by Andre Russell (24) and Rinku Singh helped them reach a challenging 157/7 in 16 overs.

KKR landed in a difficult situation once again as Mumbai Indians blazed to 65 for no loss in the seventh over when Ishan Kishan hit a 22-ball 40 studded with five boundaries and two sixes. However, the introduction of the spinners Sunil and Varun Chakravarthy changed the complexion of the match and turned things towards the hosts.

Narine sent back the well-settled Ishan Kishan while Chakravarthy claimed the key wickets of Rohit Sharma and Hardik Pandya to derail Mumbai Indians’ innings. The five-time champions needed 70 off 30 balls before they made a valiant attempt.

Tilak Varma blasted a 17-ball 32 and struck a few big hits off Harshit Rana to make it 41 off 12 balls and Naman Dhir hammered a six-ball 17 to take MI needing 22 from the last six balls.

Skipper Shreyas Iyer turned to pacer Harshit Rana to bowl the final over instead of the more experienced Mitchell Starc and his decision worked as Rana made a fine comeback and bowled a brilliant final over.

Naman Dhir was out for 17 off six on the first ball. A delivery later Harshit Rana got Varma with extra bounce as an attempted slap over point went behind to keeper Salt and Mumbai Indians eventually finished with 139/8 in 16 overs and fell short by 18 runs.

On a wicket on which the ball was gripping and rising a bit, Mumbai fettered away the good start as they lost their way around in the middle overs, failing to get the better of KKR spinners Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine.

Kishan, who struck successive fours off and followed that up with a six off the final ball of the fourth over bowled by Harshit Rana, switch-hit Sunil Narine for a boundary and a six off successive balls to round off the Power-play.

Narine got the breakthrough for KKR when he outfoxed Kishan with a faster carrom ball, and the batter hit it straight to Ramandeep Singh. This was his 550th wicket in T20 cricket.

Chakravarthy sent back Rohit and Hardik and Russell got Suryakumar Yadav and Tim David, SKY’s wicket proved to be the turning point as he was capable of single-handedly leading Mumbai to victory as he did by scoring a century in their match against SRH a few days ago.

Earlier, Mumbai Indians got early success as Newan Thushara accounted for opener Phil Salt after the England batter had carted him for a six off the first ball. Thushara adjusted his length slowed it down a bit and Salt skied it to Anshul Kamboj at fine leg for six off five deliveries.

Jasprit Bumrah sent back the dangerous Sunil Narine for a duck off his first ball of the match, a brilliant inswinging yorker that started wide, swerved late and disturbed the stumps.

Skipper Shreyas Iyer (7) was the next to go, bowled by Anshul Kamboj for 7 off 10 balls, walking too far across even before the ball was released.

Just when it looked like Mumbai were on top and will add to their misery, Venkatesh Iyer and Nitish Rana, scriped a fine rescue, raising a 37-run partnership for the fourth wicket for the fourth wicket partnership.

Both of them struck some fine shots including scoring 15 off Bumrah’s second over with Venkatesh Iyer hammering two fours and a six in the fourth over, as the Mumbai Indians bowlers missed a few tricks and failed to maintain the pressure.

Venkatesh, who top scored with 70 when KKR took on MI in the reverse fixture at the Wankhede, helping the team win its first match at the Wankhede in 12 years, blasted a 21-ball 42, hitting six boundaries and two maximums before he holed out to long-off on the bowling of Piyush Chawla and Suryakumar Yadav took it around chest high.

Rana, back into the side after missing a few matches, and Andre Russell raised 39 runs for the fifth wicket partnership, scoring more freely as the Mumbai Indians bowlers bowled fuller lengths and in the range for the batters to swing their arms. Rana, who got a lbw decision overturned on DRS as the ball was narrowly missing the stumps, hammered Hardik Pandya for a four and six off successive balls, struck Bumrah for two fours in the 12th over before eas caught short of the crease at non-striker’s end by a brilliant effort by Tilak Varma.

Russell chanced his arms as was expected of him and played a brief cameo of 14-ball 24 before holing out to Kamboj off Chawla.

Rinku Singh and Ramandeep Singh struck a couple of big shots towards the end as Mumbai Indians pulled things back a bit to restrict KKR, who were cruising towards 170-180 at one juncture. Rinku was out to Bumrah in the final over before Ramandeep Singh blasted a six off Bumrah’s final delivery to help them reach a commanding 157/7 in 16 overs.

Brief scores:

Kolkata Knight Riders 157/7 in 16 overs (Venkatesh Iyer 42, Nitish Rana 33; Piyush Chawla 2-28, Jasprit Bumrah 2-39) beat Mumbai Indians 139/8 in 16 overs (Ishan Kishan 40, Tilak Varma 32; Varun Chakravarthy 2=17, Harshit Rana 2-34, Andre Russell 2-34) by 18 runs.

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