Holders Kolkata Knight Riders launched their title defence on a winning note as skipper Gautam Gambhir and Suryakumar Yadav drove them to a seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indians in the IPL-8 T20 cricket tournament opener here today.
Chasing 169 for a win, Gambhir’s 43-ball 57 (7×4, 1×6) led the KKR charge, while Suryakumar’s unbeaten 46 off 20 deliveries helped them reach to their target in 18.3 overs. But it was the 85-run second wicket partnership between Gambhir and Manish Pandey (40) that set up the chase. There was some respite after the visitors dismissed the duo but ironically they found their nemesis in a familiar Mumbaikar Suryakumar, who led Mumbai in Ranji Trophy this season.
The talented youngster, who came in at 121/3 with 48 required from 34 balls, hit some sensational shots that included a four and 5 sixes. Yusuf Pathan was also unbeaten on 14. Corey Anderson, Jasprit Bumrah and Harbhajan Singh picked up a wicket each.
Earlier, Rohit Sharma showed why Eden Gardens is special to him as he followed up his ODI world record 264 (vs Sri Lanka in November, 2013) with an entertaining unbeaten 98 from 65 balls (12×4, 4×6). Umesh Yadav bore the brunt of Sharma’s fury as six of his 12 boundaries came against the India ace pacer.
Put into bat, the visitors lost two wickets in three balls and looked shaky 37/3 after a fiery spell from man-of-the-match Morne Morkel (2/18) but Sharma, who had struck an ODI world record 264 here in November last year, was again in his elegant best.
Sharma dissected the field with elegance and picked Indian speedster Umesh Yadav as his bunny en route to his 22nd IPL half-century. Sharma’s 98 not out came from 65 balls studded with 12 boundaries and four sixes and was well supported by Kiwi all-rounder Anderson who remained unbeaten on 55 from 41 balls (4×4, 3×6) in a 131-run undefeated partnership.