Russell's 80* off 40 trumps Hardik's 91 off 34 as Knight Riders stay alive
Kolkata Knight Riders 232 for 2 (Russell 80*, Gill 76, Lynn 54) beat Mumbai Indians 198 for 7 (Hardik 91, Russell 2-25, Gurney 2-37, Narine 2-44) by 34 runs
Dominant performances from opener Shubman Gill and No. 3 Andre Russell helped Kolkata Knight Riders halt their six-game losing streak in marvelous fashion against Mumbai Indians as they won their 100th IPL game.
The duo combined 12 sixes and 12 fours to help Knight Riders post the season's highest team score, with assistance from Chris Lynn's 29-ball 54.
Mumbai's pace-bowling pair of Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga went wicketless for 92 runs in eight overs, and even their most economical bowler, Krunal Pandya, conceded nine runs per over, as Knight Riders accelerated steadily to get 75 in their last five overs.
Mumbai were pegged back early in their chase of 233 with the dismissals of Quinton de Kock and Rohit Sharma inside four overs. After the chase's ninth over, they had already lost four wickets, and the required run-rate was 15.72.
Hardik's 17-ball fifty was the quickest of IPL 2019, but with no other batsman making a significant contribution, the required rate of 16 an over was too much. Mumbai succumbed to their first defeat to Knight Riders since May 2015. On most other days, Hardik's 34-ball 91 would go down as a match-winning innings, but on this occasion, it only helped Mumbai avoid what could've been a massive defeat.
Sublime Gill maximises chance at the top
Until Sunday's game, six of Knight Riders' losses came batting first. So when they were asked to bat first again by Rohit Sharma, history wasn't on their side.
But Gill opened the batting - for the second game in a row - and struck two fours and a six in a 14-run first over. With Chris Lynn playing tentatively for his first seven balls, Gill farmed the strike against Krunal and Malinga in the opening overs. When Krunal came back for his second over, Lynn found his range and struck two fours off him, and another off Bumrah in the fifth. By the end of the Powerplay he had struck 23 in a fifty-run stand with Gill.
Gill then took the backseat, and the middle overs began with 39 runs between overs six and nine. In that period, Lynn struck four fours and two sixes to bring up his half-century in just 27 balls. With Lynn falling to Rahul Chahar's legspin in the tenth over, Gill took over and brought up a half-century of his own - and the team's hundred - in the 11th over.
Russell walked in at No. 3 and Gill gave his partner some breathing space by continuing to find the occasional boundary. A six off Chahar in the 12th over took Gill to 58 off 35 deliveries and another one in the 14th helped them gain momentum after a quiet 13th. When Lasith Malinga came to bowl the 16th, he was welcomed by Gill with a drilled four past his left, and two balls later, a flick off his toes for four as he continued to grow in confidence.
When he struck Hardik for a checked-loft, it seemed like the ball would soar over wide long-on for his fifth six of the innings. Instead, it found Evin Lewis running backwards to take a difficult catch. With the score at 158 for 2 and 28 balls to go in the innings, Gill walked back to a standing ovation.
Russell walks the talk
After publicising his desire to bat up the order, Russell came in around the tenth over and rode a bit of luck before switching dramatically to a near-chanceless knock. When still on 1, Russell had pulled towards deep square leg, but Lewis - slow to react - couldn't wrap his fingers around the ball. After that, Russell provided no such opportunities.
He teed off in the 14th over, drilling back-to-back sixes off Chahar to move from six off 12 deliveries to 18 off 14. After that, he combined with Gill to attack Mumbai's bowlers from both ends. At Gill's departure, Russell was only on 24.
With eight wickets to go, though, Russell let his instincts take over. Mumbai's pacers attempted to go either wide, or short and wide, and Russell played effortless ramp-cuts over point to win that battle. With No. 4 Dinesh Karthik also hitting two boundaries in his first four balls, Russell collected three sixes off Hardik's 18th to move on to 49, and two balls later, ran across for his fourth half-century of the season with 10 deliveries to go in the innings.
But the back-end is where a set Rusell poses the most danger. He struck a six and a four off Bumrah's final over to take 15 runs off the 19th, and then dug into Malinga's 20th over, hitting two sixes and two fours - including a drilled flat six over extra cover - to finish on an unbeaten 40-ball 80. The last-ball six took Knight Riders past the previous-highest season score of 231 by Sunrisers Hyderabad.
Hardik gives Knight Riders a scare
Mumbai lost four wickets inside ten overs but Hardik wasn't giving up. Walking in at No. 6, Hardik struck six sixes off his first 14 deliveries. He then struck his first four, a cut off Gurney, off his 15th delivery to reach 46, and two balls later reached his fifty with a six over square leg.
From the other end, Pollard found the occasional boundary to keep Mumbai's score ticking, but it was Hardik who was giving a glimmer of hope to the Mumbai fans. The partnership - at a run-rate of more than 13 - ended in the 14th over when Pollard was caught at square leg off Narine.
With six overs to go, Mumbai needed a further 100 runs to win. Hardik and Krunal creamed 20 off Chawla's 16th over to bring the equation to 73 off four overs, which came down to 59 off three when he took on Narine.
But Hardik fell trying to flat-bat the last ball of the 18th. His 34-ball 91 - including nine sixes and six fours - was his highest T20 score. Mumbai added only 13 after his dismissal in a game where 29 sixes were hit - the sixth-most in an IPL match.
Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo