Kolkata, May 22 : James Franklin struck a blistering 23-ball unbeaten 45 to help Mumbai Indians pull off a sensational five-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the final round-robin league match of the IPL here today.
Pacer Laxmipathy Balaji turned as the villain for the Knight Riders, as needing 21 off the last over, he went for four boundaries and a six to concede 23 runs and hand Mumbai Indians the last ball win at the packed Eden Gardens.
It was Franklin who started the proceedings in the last over, spanking Balaji for four consecutive boundaries to reduce the equation to four of the last delivery.
Young Ambati Rayudu (17 not out off 6 balls) then drew curtains to the match in style, clobbering Balaji over the square-leg fence to silence the sellout Eden crow and bring the the Mumbai outfit back on winning track after three consecutive defeats.
The win meant Mumbai finish the round-robin league on the third position with 18 points from 14 matches ahead of Kolkata Knight Riders, who have 16 points from as many games.
By virtue of their win against Chennai Super Kings earlier in the day, Royal Challengers Bangalore topped the standings with 19 points from 14 matches.Even though both Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians have similar points, the former remained in the second spot because of a better net run rate.Royal Challengers will now take on Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier on Tuesday at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, while the Knight Riders will be up against Mumbai Indians in the eliminator on Wednesday at the same venue.
Put into bat, the Knight Riders had an eerie start losing two quick wickets with the scoreboard reading 22 but Jacques Kallis displayed a cool head and guided the home team innings with a 42-ball 59.
Together with Manoj Tiwary (35 off 22) and Yusuf Pathan (36 off 27), Kallis shared 47 and 57 runs for the third and fourth wickets respectively to set the platform for Knight Riders' challenging score of 175 for seven.
The burly South African entertained a sell-out Eden crowd with four boundaries and three sixes.Towards the end, Ryan ten Doeschate (18 off 12) and Rajat Bhatia (11 not out off 6) played good hands to take Knight Riders past the 170-run mark.
For Mumbai Indians, young right-arm pacer Abu Nechim Ahmed and Franklin took two wickets each, giving away 32 and 35 runs respectively.Defending the total, Rajat Bhatia returned with fine figures of three wickets for 22 runs to help the Knight Riders pull back after Sachin Tendulkar (38 from 27 balls, 6x4) and Harbhajan Singh (30 from 29 balls, 5x4) looked dangerous with a 57-run second wicket stand that came of just 42 balls. Bhatia first dismissed Harbhajan in the ninth over to end the dangerous-looking second-wicket partnership and then got the vital wickets of Rohit Sharma and Tendulkar to turn the game in Knight Riders favour.
Promoted to the number three position after the dismissal of Tirimalasetti Suman (4), Harbhajan did his job of pinch-hitting to perfection.Harbhajan played a fearless innings as he took on the Knight Riders bowlers, dispatching them to all parts of the ground.
Tendulkar, on the other hand, went about his business in a quiet manner, getting the odd boundaries with his silken touch and rotating the strike with ones and twos.
Harbhajan was particularly ruthless against Balaji, who conceded 18 runs in his first over, even as the star off-spinner survived a dropped chance by Bhatia.
Bhatia, who was taken out of the field for a medication after he hurt his head while attempting a tough catch of Harbhajan, returned to haunt Tendulkar and co as he pulled the Knight Riders back with three wickets from his three overs in succession.
Looking strong at 70 for 1 after eight overs, Bhatia scalped the dangerous-looking Harbhajan in the first ball of his first over when the off-spinner gave a catch to Tiwary.
Bhatia then dismissed Rohit (10 off 9 balls) in his second over after the Mumbai Indians batsman edged one to Shreevats Goswami behind the stumps.Bhatia next scalp was the prized-scalp of Tendulkar, who gave a simple catch to his counterpart Gautam Gambhir at point.Just when it looked, Mumbai were slowly going out of the contest, came in Franklin, who in Rayudu's company added unbeaten 41 runs for the sixth wicket, and turned the match heads down in favour of the visitors.
Earlier, facing Lasith Malinga for the first time ever, Goswami had some anxious moments as the Knight Riders made a cautious apparoach to their innings.After surviving a couple of fiery deliveries from Malinga, Goswami (1 off 3 balls) ran himself out following a mix up with Kallis.
At the other end, Kallis looked unruffled as he attacked Malinga in the same over, picking up the ball over extra cover for a boundary in the last ball.
Knight Riders skipper Gambhir quickly got himself in the groove with a six of Abu Nechim.
But Gambhir (8) perished in the very next ball when he missed Abu Nechim's line completely to see his off-stump shattered as the Knight Riders looked in some trouble, losing two wickets inside the first four overs.
The Knight Riders, however, maintained a healthy run-rate and Kallis stood tall to take their cause forward as they scored 46 runs for the loss of two wickets at the end of the powerplay.
In-form Tiwary played another fluent innings as the stylish Bengal skipper stitched a crucial third wicket partnership with the experienced South African.The duo added 45 runs from 33 balls before Tiwary got himself out with another suicidial run-out. He hit five boundaries and one six during his stay.
After the fall of Tiwary, Kallis got fine support from big-hitting Pathan, who looked at his belligerent best taking the attack on Mumbai Indians camp.In the very third ball he faced, Pathan smote left-arm spinner Price for a six over square leg and Kallis followed with a boundary as the veteran Zimbabwean conceded 13 runs of his first over.
Continuing with his blitzkrieg, Pathan dispatched Pollard for two back-to-back boundaries, while Kallis added another as the West Indian conceded 15 runs to put the Knight Riders on course for a challenging total.
Pathan and Kallis took the Knight Riders to 124 in the 16th over before the former got out after a quickfire innings.Kallis soon exploded with three sixes, two of them in succession, as he completed his half-century in style.The jam-packed Eden crowd numbering more than 65000 got their full worth of money with all the Knight Riders batsmen coming good. PTI