Mumbai: Mumbai Indians (MI) finished atop the Indian Premier League (IPL) points table at the end of the group stage of the 12th edition of the cash-rich league with a commanding nine-wicket victory over a listless Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday.
Chasing a paltry 134 for victory, Mumbai were never in trouble as skipper Rohit Sharma led from the front with an unbeaten 55 off 48 deliveries, his innings laced with eight fours. It was Rohit's 36th IPL fifty, as Mumbai eased to 134/1 in just 16.1 overs.
The three-time IPL champions, who finished in pole position with 18 points from 14 matches, will now take on second-placed Chennai Super Kings in the Qualifier 1 in Chennai on Tuesday.
Delhi Capitals and Sunrisers Hyderabad, the latter becoming the first team in the history of the competition to qualify for the playoffs with 12 points, will fight it out in the Eliminator in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday.
Asked to bat first, KKR had Robin Uthappa to blame for his laboured 40 off 47 balls, on a day Andre Russell failed to open his account.
For the home team, veteran Lasith Malinga snared three wickets with Hardik Pandya (2/20) and Jasprit Bumrah (2/31) also shining with the ball.
South Africa stumper-batsman Quinton de Kock (30; 23b, 4x1, 6x3) gave Mumbai a flying start before Dinesh Karthik took a stunning catch to get rid of him off Prasidh Krishna's bowling.
But there was no stopping Rohit with Suryakumar Yadav (46*, 27b, 4x5, 6x2) also playing a brilliant hand to smash a six off Russell in the 17th over and take the team home with 23 balls to spare.
The duo shared an unbroken 88-run partnership for the second wicket.
Earlier, KKR paid the price for poor decision-making as Uthappa and Karthik (3) wasted a lot of deliveries in the middle overs while Russell, who was out for a first-ball duck, was not sent in to bat at No. 4 after Chris Lynn (41; 29b, 4x2, 6x4) had given them a steady start.
Uthappa played as many as 24 dot balls in his woeful knock of 40 (47b, 4x1, 6x3) before Rohit took his catch at cover off Bumrah in the last over.
Bumrah got another wicket in the very next ball, the last of the innings, as Hardik caught Rinku Singh for 4.
Besides Malinga, who leaked 35 runs in his four overs, Hardik also returned impressive figures of 2/20 in 3 overs while Bumrah ended with 2/31. Mitchell McClenaghan did not get a wicket but gave away just 19 runs from his four overs as the hosts capped a spectacular bowling display.
After managing just five runs off the first two overs, KKR raced to 49/0 in the Powerplay overs, largely due to Lynn who took on Malinga and Rahul Chahar to continue his good form with the bat.
But the introduction of Hardik did the damage as the World Cup-bound India all-rounder removed both the openers in quick succession with two brilliantly executed slower deliveries.
First Shubman Gill was trapped in front in the 7th over before Lynn holed out to wicketkeeper Quinton de Kock, trying to go for a big shot.
Uthappa and Karthik then failed to keep the momentum going as Andre Russell watched from the dugout.
The pair mustered only six runs between overs 9 and 11 with Uthappa failing to connect a single delivery off McClenaghan in the 11th over which ended up being a maiden.
After scoring just nine runs off 21 balls, Uthappa finally found some relief when he hit Malinga for a six in the 13th over, the first boundary for KKR after 39 balls.
In the same over, Karthik, also struggling to get going, was caught by Krunal Pandya at mid-wicket. But the body blow came in the final ball of the over when Malinga set up Russell with with a bouncer from around the wicket, which brushed his gloves on the way through to de Kock behind the stumps.
Nitish Rana played a 13-ball 26 cameo before Malinga had him caught by Keiron Pollard at long-off.
Brief scores: Kolkata Knight Riders: 133/7 in 20 overs (Chris Lynn 41, Robin Uthappa 40; Lasith Malinga 3/35, Hardik Pandya 2/20, Jasprit Bumrah 2/31); Mumbai Indians: 134/1 in 16.1 overs (Rohit Sharma 55 not out; Suryakumar Yadav 46 not out). (IANS)
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