Firm Rohit, fiery Pollard gun down 175
Mumbai Indians 178 for 4 (Rohit 68*, Pollard 51*, Narine 2-22) beat Kolkata Knight Riders 174 for 5 (Gambhir 59, Uthappa 36, Southee 2-38) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
A dropped catch and a botched run-out attempt left Mumbai Indians coach Ricky Ponting a bit sheepish, during a mid-innings interview, as he admitted a few things hadn't gone to plan after they chose to bowl in the final match at Wankhede stadium for IPL 2016. The batting, though, had very few glitches. Rohit Sharma struck his fourth fifty in four chases this season and nothing the Kolkata Knight Riders did made a difference.
There were six bowling options that Gautam Gambhir could use to defend a total of 174, which he had helped build with his 29th half-century in the IPL. But his team relies on its spinners to effect a slowdown and drive the batsmen into panicking. That was not possible with dew making the outfield quicker and helping the ball come onto the bat.
Its impact was clear as Rohit and Ambati Rayudu struck 10 boundaries in 34 balls and as Kieron Pollard, playing his 100th IPL match, muscled an unbeaten 17-ball fifty and sealed victory with his sixth six of the night.
Gambhir, though, did not make any excuses. He said the Knight Riders batsmen should have scored 15 more runs and that as international cricketers they should know how to deal with dew. It was a case of adapting to a tough situation - as he himself had done while batting. Since Gambhir is a sweet timer of the ball on the off side, bowlers often try to tuck him up to keep him quiet. So he opened his stance, which helped him clear the front foot quicker, allowing a smoother bat swing when he hit through midwicket. Twenty-two of his 59 runs came in that region, including a six and two fours.
Mumbai could have dismissed Gambhir on 8 but Mitchell McClenaghan fluffed a simple caught-and-bowled chance in the second over. The other Knight Riders opener Robin Uthappa was given a life on 35 when Parthiv Patel missed a run-out. Australia's Chris Lynn, who was brought in to lengthen the batting in place of fast bowler Morne Morkel, was dropped on 2 by Tim Southee, and when Yusuf Pathan offered a chance at redemption one ball later, Southee dropped the catch again and conceded a boundary.
No such mistakes plagued Mumbai's batting, with Rohit's timing and Pollard's brute force finishing the game with 12 balls to spare.
The only thing that went right for the Knight Riders was their catching. A fine grab from Yusuf, over his left shoulder at slip, got rid of Parthiv in the second over of the chase. Suryakumar Yadav ran several yards to his right from long-on and timed his jump perfectly to bring Rayudu down. Lynn capped things off in the 13th over when he leapt up at long-off to take a catch on the edge of the boundary, popped the ball up before the momentum pushed him out of bounds and came back in to complete the dismissal. Jos Buttler was out for 15 and Mumbai needed 69 off 42 balls.
In walked Pollard, who had seemed a bit slow in the field perhaps because of the knee injury that kept him out of the World T20. But with bat in hand, he looked assured. He struck his third ball for four, pelted three sixes in the 16th over - curiously bowled by part-time seamer R Sathish - and bashed three more in the 18th to wrap things up. "Pollard is peaking at the right time," Rohit said at the presentation. The West Indian had come into the match with only 71 runs in his last six innings.
While Pollard's contribution was a good sign for Mumbai going forward, the chase had been built on Rohit's unbeaten 68. He began with a rip-roaring six over square leg and pushed on with a pristine cover drive. None of his shots taxed him for effort and yet the ball simply flew away. His composure was also noteworthy and seeing off tight spells from Shakib Al Hasan (1 for 30) and Sunil Narine (2 for 22) went a long way in handing Knight Riders their second loss of the season.
Alagappan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo