Clinical Knights knock out Mumbai

NZA substandard batting performance from defending champions Mumbai Indians led to their elimination from the Champions League as Northern Knights won their third qualification game in a row, in Raipur. An all-round display from Knights handed Mumbai their second loss in three matches, leading to a six-wicket loss for them, which made Knights and Lahore Lions qualify for the main tournament.

All three teams were in the fray to advance to the next stage and Mumbai had to win the match, by any margin, to qualify. But once they were put in to bat, their attempts to win the match, or even put on a challenging score, went out of the window when they were reduced to 46 for 5 by the Knights pacers in the 11th over. The lower order helped them recover, but the chase of 133 was made easy by the Knights openers in another convincing win for them.

Desperate to get a strong start, Mumbai never got in the groove when Trent Boult and Tim Southee stifled them early on with their nagging lines outside off, conceding only 11 in the first four overs, and accounting for Michael Hussey. Even though first-change Scott Kuggeleijn conceded 15 in the fifth over, Scott Styris ran through Mumbai’s batting with three wickets. He got rid of Jalaj Saxena, Lendl Simmons and Aditya Tare when all three of them made room to target the off side. Saxena handed a low catch to short cover, Simmons missed completely and lost his off stump and Tare looked to cut late but the ball bounced a tad extra and took an edge to land in a BJ Watling’s gloves.

Boult then came back for his second spell to account for Ambati Rayudu as Watling took his second catch and Mumbai were crumbling at 46 for 5. Outstanding fielding displays from Knights complemented their bowling as they cut singles and didn’t allow Mumbai to rotate the strike under pressure.

Mumbai nearly tripled the score in two stages from there. Kieron Pollard and Harbhajan Singh stalled the fall of wickets for nearly five overs. Even though Harbhajan fell for 10, Pollard’s three boundaries started the fightback, taking them to 89. Lasith Malinga then struck three fours and a six on consecutive deliveries, two of them to edges, and Shreyas Gopal topped it by making room and collecting 16 from the last over to lift the total to 132.

Knights were hardly bothered in the chase, despite losing four wickets, as their openers put on a dominating stand of 83. Anton Devcich took charge initially and a calm Kane Williamson rotated the strike from the other end. They added 49 runs in the Powerplay, mostly striking the ball around the ground, finding gaps regularly, and converting the loose deliveries on offer.

Bowling changes after the Powerplay also didn’t help as Williamson chipped the ball in the gaps and used his feet against the spinners to accelerate. Devcich cashed in on the full tosses and short balls before all four wickets fell to soft dismissals, handing catches to Harbhajan and Pollard. But by the time Mumbai removed the openers, Knights needed only 30 from 43 balls and even though Watling gave his wicket away for a duck, Styris aptly hit the winning runs with 16 balls to spare, after Daryl Mitchell had scored 15 off Malinga in the penultimate over.

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