Mumbai Indians opener Quinton de Kock plays a shot against the Kolkata Knight Riders in Abu Dhabi on Friday night. - BCCI/IPL
Dubai - The defending champions stride to a majestic eight-wicket win
Quinton de Kock and skipper Rohit Sharma led the way up top as defending IPL champions Mumbai Indians strolled past the Kolkata Knight Riders on Friday night.
In what should have been a lip-smacking match-up between the two Abu Dhabi residents, four-time winners Mumbai Indians rendered it to almost a non-contest.
It was a walk in the park as far as the Mumbai Indians were concerned as they strode majestically to an eight-wicket victory with 19 balls to spare at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in the UAE capital.
Faced with a meagre target of 149, the Mumbai Indians hardly broke into a sweat with the opener de Kock and Rohit putting them in auto-pilot mode.
De Kock, the South African captain, conjured the 13th half-century of the IPL, an unbeaten 78 from 44 deliveries that was peppered with nine boundaries and three sixes. And although they lost a couple of wickets, those of Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav at the back end, it was clinically executed as southpaw de Kock and Hardik Pandya took them home.
Their sixth victory in eight matches and fifth on the bounce returned the Mumbai Indians back to familiar territory - at the top of the table - while the Knight Riders will have to do some soul searching after suffering their fourth defeat and second on the trot.
The win also put more daylight between them and KKR, swelling their head-to-head tally to 21-6.
Earlier, Pat Cummins and newly-installed captain Eoin Morgan were involved in damage control as the Kolkata Knight Riders put up something to fight with.
Cummins scored his maiden IPL half-century, an unbeaten 53 from 36 deliveries with five boundaries and two sixes, while Morgan, who took over the reins from Dinesh Karthik, made an unbeaten 39 from 29 balls with two fours and two sixes as the two-time winners mustered 148-5..
The Mumbai Indians bowling attack had the Kolkata Knight Riders batting in tatters. Kiwi left-arm pacer Trent Boult started the slide by having opener Rahul Tripathi brilliantly caught by Suryakumar Yadav at point. With that, Boult completed 50 IPL wickets.
Suryakumar Yadav seems to be on roll when it comes to taking some blinders this season and the Mumbaikar has come to be known by the moniker 'Sky.'
Left-hander Nitish Rana then gloved Nathan Coulter-Nile into the gloves of Quinton de Kock to leave the Knight Riders on 33-2.
Leg spinner Rahul Chahar was on a hat-trick after removing opener Shubman Gill and Karthik for 21 and four respectively. Gill was caught by Kieron Pollard, while Karthik, who had relinquished the captaincy ahead of the game, played him on to his stumps. But Andre Russell denied Chahar the hat-trick by driving him to extra cover for a single.
The Kolkata Knight Riders batting was in absolute shambles at 42-4 and with dangerman Russell too departing, caught by de Kock off Jasprit Bumrah, half their side were back in the dugout for 61.
Morgan and Cummins then went about repairing the damage by stitching together an unbroken 87-run partnership for the sixth wicket.
Earlier, Morgan won the toss and opted to take first strike. The Kolkata Knight Riders made two changes with Shivam Mavi and Chris Green slotting into the line-up ahead of Tom Banton and Kamlesh Nagarkoti.
The Mumbai Indians, meanwhile, saw Nathan Coulter-Nile playing his first game for the defending champions. The Australian came in place of countryman James Pattinson.
Kolkata Knight Riders: 148-5 in 20 overs (Pat Cummins 53 not out, Eoin Morgan 39 not out, Shubman Gill 21, Rahul Chahar 2-18) lost to Mumbai Indians: 149-2 in 16.5 overs (Quinton de Kock 78 not out, Rohit Sharma 35, Hardik Pandya 21 not out) by 8 wickets.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Rahul Tripathi, Shubman Gill, Nitish Rana, Eoin Morgan (C), Dinesh Karthik (wk), Andre Russell, Chris Green, Pat Cummins, Shivam Mavi, Varun Chakravarthy, Prasidh Krishna.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma (C), Quinton de Kock (wk), Suryakumar Yadav, Ishan Kishan, Hardik Pandya, Kieron Pollard, Krunal Pandya, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Rahul Chahar, Trent Boult, Jasprit Bumrah.