IPL 2019: Endgame for Knight Riders as Mumbai Indians finishes on top

A disciplined bowling performance and a confident start to the chase took Mumbai Indians to victory in its last IPL 2019 league game against Kolkata Knight Riders. KKR's defeat helped Sunrisers Hyderabad sneak into the playoffs on the merit of a better run rate.

Rohit Sharma

Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma led from the front with half century against Kolkata Knight Riders in Mumbai on Sunday. (PTI)   -  PTI

Kolkata Knight Riders went into the match today with one objective -  to defeat Mumbai Indians and enter the Indian Premier League play-offs.

But a sluggish batting display at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday saw Kolkata crash out of the tournament, after going down to the home side by nine wickets.

With KKR out of the race for the playoffs, Sunrisers Hyderabad, which also has 12 points from 14 games, entered the top four on the merit of a better run rate.

READ | Sunrisers Hyderabad first team in IPL history to qualify for playoffs with 12 points

Put in to bat, Shubman Gill and Chris Lynn stitched an opening partnership of 49 runs in 6.1 overs. However, after the two batsmen exited, the visitor went on the defensive and could manage only 133-7 in 20 overs.

Chasing a rather easy target, Mumbai sealed the deal in 16.1 overs, with captain Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav playing unbeaten knocks of 55 and 46 respectively.

The side got off to a bright start, with Quiton de Kock and Rohit piling up 46 for the first wicket. But even after KKR captain Dinesh Karthik took a stunning catch to send de Kock back to pavilion for 30, Rohit and Suryakumar ensured there was no slip-up.

READ | As it happened, MI vs KKR

While this win puts Mumbai on top of the table, it once again raises question marks over KKR’s strategy.

In a must-win game, it was important for KKR to prioritise putting runs on the board after losing Gill and Lynn in quick succession. Instead of promoting West Indies power-hitter Andre Russell up the order, Knights think-tank sent captain Karthik and Robbie Uthappa (40 off 47 balls) in the middle, a move which ultimately hurt the team.

With the two failing to accelerate, the pressure was back on the visiting side.From a comfortable 56-2 in seven overs, the Knight Riders struggled to score 12 runs in the next five overs. That Mumbai's Kiwi fast bowler Mitchell McClenaghan even managed a maiden over goes to say a lot.

With Karthik departing for three off nine deliveries, the onus was on Russell. But the team’s top scorer in the tournament (510 runs from 14 innings) failed to deliver when it mattered the most. He was caught behind by de Kock on the very first delivery, off Lasith Malinga.

Even though Nitish Rana (26 runs off 13 balls) stitched a 47-run stand for the fifth wicket with Uthappa, it was not enough to guide the team to a big total.

READ | World Cup-bound Kedar Jadhav hurts shoulder, could miss remainder of league

Mumbai Indians deserve credit for making the best of the opportunity and tightening the noose around Kolkata, thanks to a disciplined attack from the pace trio of Lasith Malinga, Hardik Pandya and Jasprit Bumrah.

While Malinga scalped three wickets for 35, Hardik and Bumrah took two wickets each to put Mumbai on the frontfoot.

In the past eight encounters between the two teams at the Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai Indians have emerged victorious on seven occasions, and there was no change in script this time either.

With the league stages officially done, over to the playoffs!