Prior to the start of the UAE phase of the Indian T20 League 2021, not many would have expected Team Kolkata to be among the top four in the points table. However, after less than one week since the resumption of the tournament, the men in purple find themselves placed at the fourth position.
Eoin Morgan’s men managed to start their Phase 2 journey with a massive win against Team Bangalore, but given their positionin the table, they still needed a win in this match to get into the top four. Up against them was Team Mumbai, who have a fantastic head-to-head record against Kolkata, and also had a full strength team at their disposal. None of these factors eventually had any significance, as Kolkata registered a pretty convincing win by 7 wickets.
Familiar opening partnership works well for Mumbai
After missing the last game due to a niggle, Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma returned to the playing XI today, and he opened the innings alongside South African wicket-keeper batter, Quinton de Kock. The duo gave Mumbai an amazing start, as they played big shots right from the very beginning.
The likes of Sunil Narine and Prasidh Krishna were at the receiving end of their big hits, as after the first nine overs, Mumbai had scored 77 runs, at the loss of zero wickets. Narine got the better of Rohit Sharma in the tenth over of the match, but even then, Mumbai were looking all set to score a minimum of 175, as they had plenty of superstar batters yet to come.
Mumbai lose the plot in the middle
After the end of 10 overs, Mumbai had scored 80 runs at the loss of only one wicket. They would have liked former Kolkata batter Suryakumar Yadav to maintain the run rate, but he struggled to tackle the spin of Varun Chakravarthy and Sunil Narine early on in his innings.
Having been put under pressure by the spinners, Yadav decided to play the big shots when Prasidh Krishna was reintroduced in the attack, but the latter managed to dismiss Yadav in the very first ball of the thirteenth over.
Ishan Kishan, who came to bat at number four, also struggled to hit the ground running, which subsequently put Quinton de Kock under all sorts of pressure. He lost his wicket in the fifteenth over, while a couple of overs later, Ishan Kishan played a reckless shot to throw his wicket away off Lockie Ferguson’s bowling.
From 80/1, Mumbai found themselves at 121/4 after the end of 17 overs, having scored only 41 runs in the last seven overs.
Pollard ensures a strong finish to the innings
Having dismissed the big guns and also lowered the run rate by quite a margin, Kolkata would have ideally wanted to restrict Mumbai to a score of under 145. That, however, was not the case to be, thanks to the big West Indian, Kieron Pollard.
Pollard went after Prasidh Krishna, the same bowler who had tormented some of Mumbai’s better batters, in the 18th over. 18 runs came from that over, while 10 runs came from the penultimate over bowled by Andre Russell. Pollard scored 21 runs from 15 balls, which helped Mumbai post a competitive score of 155/6.
Venkatesh Iyer is here to stay
Kolkata surprised everyone in the last match when they tweaked the opening combination of Nitish Rana and Shubman Gill to accommodate an unknown commodity in Venkatesh Iyer. Iyer batted really well against Bangalore, scoring 41 runs from 27 balls.
But if you were of the opinion that his knock against Bangalore was a one-off, his performance today should be enough to convince you that Venkatesh Iyer is here to stay at the big stage. Up against one of the better pacers of the world, Trent Boult, Iyer struck a six in the very first over.
Then in the second over, which was bowled by Boult’s New Zealand teammate Adam Milne, Iyer hit two fours and an amazing six. All off a sudden, Kolkata found themselves at 30/0 after two overs, with Mumbai bowlers under tremendous pressure
No Gill, No Problem for Kolkata
Last match’s highest run-getter for Kolkata, Shubman Gill lost his wicket to Jasprit Bumrah in the third over the match. That wicket could have been Mumbai’s ticket to a comeback, had it not been for the fantastic batting display by Venkatesh Iyer and Rahul Tripathi.
Be it Adam Milne, Krunal Pandya or Rahul Chahar – Rohit Sharma used all of his trump cards to get the pair out early, but was not successful. Both Tripathi and Iyer played a fearless brand of cricket, which put Kolkata in the driver’s seat.
In their first seven overs together, Iyer-Tripathi partnership amassed 71 runs, as Kolkata scored 111 runs at the end of ten overs. The next seven balls saw both players bring up their half-centuries, as Kolkata cruised comfortably to the finish line.
Two late wickets, but too late for Mumbai
Though it once seemed as if Mumbai will not be able to break the partnership, they did manage to pick up two late wickets. Venkatesh Iyer was bowled by Jasprit Bumran in the 12th over, while a couple of overs later, he dismissed Kolkata’s captain Eoin Morgan.
But by then, it was too little too late for Mumbai. By the time Morgan was dismissed, Kolkata was 147/3, needing only 9 runs from almost six overs. A boundary apiece by Rahul Tripathi and Nitish Rana got them over the finish line.
With this win, Kolkata are now at the fourth place in the points table. They are tied on points with Rajasthan and Mumbai, but as compared to the other two, they have much better net run rate. Mumbai, in fact, have the worst net run rate among the three, and will need to pull up their socks for their remaining matches.