Knights secure 5th playoff spot in seven years

The match started one hour late because of rain and after winning the toss, Gambhir elected to bowl first against Mumbai Indians at Eden Gardens. Trent Boult made his way back in the team for Chris Woakes while the visitors made 6 changes in their team.

Steady start from the visitors:
Lendl Simmons was accompanied by Saurabh Tiwary at the top and the duo took their time early on. The wicket had pace in it and our bowlers were able to swing the ball as well. Simmons could not stay for long as Boult removed him for 0. Rohit Sharma came next to the crease and saw a certain steep in the run-rate. Both batsmen then took the advantage of the field restrictions and expressed themselves. Tiwary, playing his first match of this season, looked in good touch but Rohit departed after making 27. Ankit Rajpoot took the main wicket as Rayudu arrived at the crease. At the end of 10 overs, they were 79/2.

MI post a competitive total:
The duo of Tiwary and Rayudu then stabilised their innings. Gambhir tried various bowlers but could not get the breakthrough. After some brisk runs, Tiwary stuttered in the middle as the big shots didn’t came easily. But Rayudu from the other end eased the pressure off by scoring some quick runs. With a run-rate of 7.86, they were 118/2 after 15 overs. It was a run-out which broke the partnership as Tiwary departed after a well-made 52. In came Pollard and the duo started playing the big shots. Rayudu too completed his fifty in 32 balls. In the 19th over, Rayudu struck a four and a six on the 3rd and 4th ball respectively. But the chinaman bowled a perfect wrong’un and got his man stumped on the next ball. Uthappa made no mistake behind the stumps. Pollard departed for 13 as they ended on 173/5 in 20 overs.

Knights stutter at the start:
Mumbai had a certain plan for Sunil Narine and paid off on the fourth ball as Tim Southee removed him for 0. Chris Lynn and Gautam Gambhir then had the onus of making sure we didn’t suffer any more damage early on. While Lynn did not hesitate to play his natural game, Gambhir stroked his way to 21 in 16 balls. Johnson removed our captain after he mistimed a pull shot. Uthappa, who had failed in the last match, could not contribute tonight as well. We suffered another blow as the well-set Lynn holed out in the deep off Vinay Kumar. At the end of 7 overs, our scoreboard read 63/4 with Pandey and Pathan at the crease. Pathan made his intentions clear as he hit 3 sixes of his first 4 balls but could not carry on as he was caught in the deep off Vinay Kumar. At the end of 10 overs, we were 92/5, needing 82 in the last 10.

Knights fail to close the game:
The duo of Pandey and Grandhomme took centre stage and played sensibly for the next few overs. They rotated the strike beautifully piercing the gaps with ease and without taking any unnecessary risks. Grandhomme was hitting the shots while Pandey settled in giving the strike to him. Things were looking good for us but then Hardik Pandya removed the New Zealand all-rounder. Kuldeep Yadav, who arrived next, looked confident at the start. But Hardik struck again and this time he removed the last accomplished batsman, Pandey out of the game. Kuldeep tried his best but succumbed under pressure after making 16 runs. In the end, we fell 9 runs short from the Mumbai Indians total but qualified for the playoffs. This is the 5th time in 7 years that we have reached this stage.

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