The inaugural match of the seventh edition of the IPL was won on Wednesday by the 2012 champions; Kolkata Knight Riders, who scored an emphatic 41 run victory over the 2013 champions, Mumbai Indians. Like a typically uncertain IPL game, the KKR victory could not have been predicted early in their innings, when Lasith Malinga, in his very first over, deceived Gautam Gambhir with a superbly bowled Yorker. Even later, KKR went about slowly against some controlled bowling from MI, who yielded only 28 runs, at the end of the 5th over. But KKR still had the formidable Jacques Kallis in the company of solid-looking Manish Pandey, both of whom finally got into their grooves. MI skipper, Rohit Sharma brought on his slow bowlers early on and they prevented free scoring. By the 10th over, KKR had only reached the score of 63/1, of which 35 were conceded in 2 overs each, by Corey Anderson and Harbhajan Singh. In the 2nd over, Malinga swallowed Gambhir and gave away just 4 runs but the Sri Lankan speedster was strangely held back by the MI Captain until the 13th over. This space allowed Kallis and Pandey to settle down and assume command. By the time Malinga came back next, the score had reached 78/1 at 6.5 runs per over. At this stage, the ominous looking Jacques Kallis was in full flow and Manish Pandey took heart from watching the veteran all-rounder at his best.
KKR applied the gas pedal and went for MI bowlers from 15th over onwards. First Pragyan Ojha yielded 20 runs in the 15th, including 2 sixes and 1 four to Kallis; then Kierron Pollard conceded 15 in the next. When Malinga came back for the third time in over no. 17, Manish Pandey greeted him with a whack over deep mid-on for 6 and then Malinga yielded 4 leg byes. His last delivery, however, was a stunning Yorker, which shattered Manish Pandey’s stumps. Malinga struck twice in the 19th over as well, when he first lured Kallis into pulling a fuller length delivery to the deep long-off, some distance away from Corey Anderson but the fielder brought off a superlative diving catch. With his last delivery, Malinga removed Shakib Al Hasan, who skied the ball to Rohit Sharma for a simple catch. Coming in next, Surya Kumar Yadav, who mostly warmed MI benches until last year, played a great last over for his new franchise. He belted Corey Anderson for three fours and remained unbeaten with 13 scored off just 5 balls. In the end, KKR finished with a highly challenging 163/5.
Mumbai Indians opened with Aditya Tare and the seasoned Mike Hussey, who had played for CSK until now. Hussey was kept quiet by KKR bowlers; Vinay Kumar and Morne Morkel, both new entrants to KKR this season. Hussey could only make 3 off 13 balls but Tare was more adventurous in producing 24 off 22, before being caught and bowled by Shakib Al Hasan in the 8th over. But before Tare, Hussey had perished to Sunil Narine, who was brought on by Gautam Gambhir in the 5th over. Narine’s second ball was swept by Tare for a spectacular 6 and then Tare ran a single, which brought Hussey to face the West Indian mystery bowler. Narine’s 4th ball was a skidding delivery, which beat Hussey’s bat and through the gap between his bat and pad, struck the stumps. At the end of 7 overs, MI were tottering at 38/1 with an asking rate closer to 10. Shakib Al Hasan’s next over produced only 3 runs with a reward of Tare’s wicket. At the end of the 10th over in the MI innings, the score was a measly 54/2 and the asking rate had mounted to 11. Though the 11th over from Kallis was expensive at 11 runs, ex-KXIP bowler Piyush Chawla contained the batsmen by giving away just 6 runs in 12th. Though Sharma and Rayudu took 12 runs in the 13th over, the 14th from Morne Morkel was worth just 3 runs. In the 15th over, when Narine came back, he would have got the wicket of Rayudu but Robin Uthappa missed a simple stumping chance and allowed 4 lucky byes for MI. 16th over from Morkel went for 11 runs but he took the wicket of Rohit Sharma, after being struck for 6 by the batsman off the first ball. With just 28 balls remaining MI needed 58 for victory at 14.5 per over, but they had already squandered their chances early in innings by slow scoring. Narine got his due in innings’ 17th over, when Uthappa didn’t err with stumping Rayudu. The over produced just 3 runs and KKR had effectively choked MI. Piyush Chawla bowled another fine over at death, conceding only 4 runs in the 18th. Mumbai kept losing wickets and could muster just 9 runs off the last two overs. In the end, it looked like a meek surrender.
For his superlative efforts, Jacques Kallis was declared man of the match. He showed his prowess even with advancing years by batting brilliantly, bowling economically and moving like a cheetah in the field.