In-form Sachin Tendulkar hammered a blistering unbeaten half century to lead Mumbai Indians to an easy seven-wicket victory over Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League on Monday.
Captain Tendulkar, who struck a 48-ball unbeaten 71, tore apart the Knight Rider bowling attack with a superb exhibition of strokeplay to notch up his second IPL III half century in front of a packed crowd at the Brabourne Stadium.
He was given good support by opener Shikhar Dhawan (23 in 21 balls) and one-down Saurabh Tiwary, who made a quick-fire 30 in 24 balls with three fours and a six, as Mumbai Indians romped home with nine balls to spare in chase of 156.
Earlier, Chris Gayle’s stroke-filled 60-ball 75 in his first IPL 3 appearance powered Kolkata Knight Riders to a competitive 155 for three after the visitors elected to bat.
Tendulkar, who hit 10 fours for his fifth IPL half century, was particularly severe on speedster Ishant Sharma whom he hooked and pulled with disdain for the majority of his boundaries.
Tendulkar and Dhawan, playing his first match, put on 61 runs in 6.5 overs to give the MI innings a flying start, and 56 for the second wicket with Tiwary.
Tendulkar, whose previous half-century (63) helped MI to beat Delhi Daredevils in their second tie, later forged an unfinished stand of 27 with Rajagopal Satish (21 not out in 11 balls) for the fourth wicket to take the home team past the finish line in 18.3 overs.
With the win today, their third in four matches, Mumbai Indians joined Royal Challengers Bangalore and Deccan Chargers at the IPL 3 table with six points.
Kolkata Knight Riders, on the other hand, slupmed to their third loss on the trot after winning their first two matches in IPL 3.
Mumbai Indians rocketed off to a brilliant start in their run-chase with Dhawan setting the tone in the first over before Tendulkar took over the attacking reins from his junior partner.
Dhawan, included in the team to launch the innings after MI left out out-of-touch veteran Sri Lankan batsman Sanath Jayasuriya, struck New Zealand speedster Shane Bond for three fours in the first over.
Turning Bond to the fine leg fence off the first ball, the left-handed opener from Delhi cover-drove the Kiwi fast bowler exquisitely for his second boundary before finishing the over in style by square driving for another four.
Tendulkar, who watched his teammate from the other end in appreciation, followed suit immediately by carving the tall Ishant for three fours, the first two shots passing the bowler on his follow through on either side and the last a superb cover drive.
With 24 runs coming in first two overs, KKR skipper Sourav Ganguly turned his attention to Gayle’s fast off breaks and the West Indian applied the brakes in third over.
But another poor over by Ishant, coupled with a misfiled due to bad bounce from the practice wicket, was taken full advantage by Tendulkar who struck the India pacer for three more fours – a cover drive, followed by a hook and a ferocious pull.
Another excellent on-drive off Gayle by Tendulkar brought up the MI’s 50 in the 5th over. Bond was struck for another four by Dhawan and at the end of the power play.
But Dhawan lost his patience when left-arm spinner Murali Kartik was introduced and flicked the slow bowler straight to rival skipper Ganguly at short mid-wicket to depart for 23 in 21 balls, with four hits to the fence.
Tiwary joined Tendulkar and with the field spread out singles and twos were the staple diet before in one fruitful over – the 13th of the innings – Tiwary slammed the till-then miserly Gayle for three boundaries after having carted Mathews with a flat bat for his and the innings’ first six in the previous over.
Tendulkar pulled down the asking rate further the moment Ishant was back into the attack as he pulled the hapless bowler for two fours in successive balls, the first one helping him complete his 50 in 35 balls with nine fours.
Ishant took his revenge by dismissing Tiwary who was caught brilliantly by Ganguly but MI were by then well on way to their third victory in four matches, and second at home.
The home side lost West Indian Kieron Pollard cheaply, before Tendulkar and Satish finished the job in style.
Earlier, Mumbai Indians produced a disciplined bowling performance to restrict Kolkata Knight Riders to 155 for three after the visitors elected to bat after winning the toss.
The Knight Riders innings revolved around Chris Gayle’s stroke-filled 75 in his first IPL 3 appearance.
After missing the previous tie against Rajasthan Royals in Ahmedabad due to flu, the West Indies skipper slipped into the groove smoothly during his 60-ball knock, that included two sixes and seven fours, besides forging two fruitful half century partnerships.
The left-handed Gayle, who missed KKR’s first two ties because of his international commitments, gave the Knight Riders a flying start of 70 runs with skipper Sourav Ganguly, who made 31 in 34 balls.
After Ganguly’s dismissal, Mumbai Indians bowlers got their act together to apply brakes for a while before Gayle opened up in his inimitable style in the company of Owais Shah (31 in 23 balls) to give the visitors a fighting total.
Gayle, who shared an 82-run stand for the second wicket with Owais Shah, was out to the last ball of the innings, trapped LBW by Zaheer Khan, the most successful bowler with 2/27.
Harbhajan was easily the pick of Mumbai Indians attack with a four-over spell in which he gave away 17 runs for the prized wicket of Ganguly.