Manish Pandey’s fireworks propel Knights to 178/7

Mumbai: A rampaging Manish Pandey led with an unbeaten 81, as Kolkata Knight Riders overcame mid-innings hiccups to post a challenging 178/7 against Mumbai Indians in their Indian Premier League encounter here on Sunday.

The weekend crowd at the Wankhede stadium were treated to some batting heroics from the 27-year-old Karnataka cricketer, who clobbered five fours and an equal number of sixes during a 47-ball knock to singlehandedly carry his team to a respectable total.

The only blemish in his innings was an edge which Parthiv Patel failed to latch on. And that could prove to be the game changer in the final analysis.

Thanks to Pandey’s blitzkrieg, the Knights finished their innings with a flourish, as the Indian batsman beat New Zealand pacer Mitchell McClenaghan to pulp in the final over, picking up two boundaries and two overboundaries. The over produced 23 runs.

For Mumbai, Krunal Pandya (3/24) was the most successful bowler.

Put in to bat, the Knights began on a song, as the opening stand of skipper Gautam Gambhir and the hard-hitting Australian Chris Lynn seemed to have started where they had left off in the first match.

The duo, who had remained unbeaten in the side’s emphatic 10 wicket win over Gujarat Lions in their first match, picked up the gaps and came up with some flourishing strokes to take the visitors to 44 at the end of the fourth over.

However, left arm spinner Krunal Pandya brought Mumbai roaring back into the match by removing Gambhir and Robin Uthappa in his very first over.

Gambhir (19; 13b, 3×4) mistimed a lofted shot to a good length ball. Three balls later, it was a sibling conspiracy that saw the end of Uthappa. The wicketkeeper-batsman went for a slog sweep and finished into the hands of Krunal’s brother Hardik Pandya.

The double strike reduced the Knights to 48/4, and they managed to reach 59 without any more hiccups at the end of the first powerplay of six overs.

The tourists suffered another reverse soon after, as the confident looking Lynn (32;A 24b, 3×4, 1×6) got out plumb leg before to Jasprit Bumrah, with KKR standing at 67/3 in 7.3 overs.

Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma introduced the veteran offie Harbhajan Singh to bowl in tandem with Pandya, and the double spin attack slowed down the scoring rate, the tourists managing to reach 79/3 at the halfway stage.

As the 11th over ended, the statistician pointed out no boundaries had been hit in the last 34 deliveries.

Pandey got a life at the start of the next over, with Patel failing to make the most of the chance. He was then 14, his side 82/3, and Pandya was the unlucky bowler. However, Krunal Pandya’s disappointment lasted only four balls, as he teamed up once again with brother Hardik – stationed at long leg – to get rid of Yusuf Pathan (6).

But Pandey made full use of his reprieve with a quickfire 44-run fifth wicket stand in the company of Surya Kumar Yadav.

KKR reached 100 in 13.2 overs, with Pandey taking a single of Mitchell McClenaghan. He grew in confidence, hoisting the same bowler over the long on boundary.

Bumrah got the stick in the 16th over, with the Nainital-born right hander picking up a six and a four of consecutive balls.

Yadav (17; 15b, 2×4) fell soon after, but Pandey completed a well-deserved half century of 37 balls with a single.