Jacques Kallis hit a 46-ball 72 and Sunil Narine claimed four wickets, as Kolkata Knight Riders scored a 41-run victory over defending champions Mumbai Indians in the opening match of the seventh season of the Indian Premier League, in Abu Dhabi, on Wednesday.
Opting to bat, Kolkata rode on fine knocks from Kallis and Manish Pandey (64) to post a competitive 163 for five, before restricting Mumbai Indians to 122 for 7, at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, as Narine returned match-winning figures of 4 for 20.
KKR's innings was built around a 131-run second-wicket partnership between Kallis and Pandey, while pace spearhead Lasith Malinga was the pick of the Mumbai bowlers. However, the Lankan's effort of four wickets for 23 runs, and Ambati Rayudu's 40-ball 48 wasn’t enough to prevent the Kolkata side from winning easily.
After Kallis and Pandey's exploits with the bat, Morne Morkel and Narine showed KKR the way with the ball. While Morkel had economical figures of 1 for 16, with just two runs coming off his first two overs, Narine stifled the Mumbai side as he picked four wickets for 20 runs.
Mumbai were off to a subdued start, as Morkel did not allow their batsmen room to free their arms. The tall South African pacer bowled such an impeccable line and length that even the experienced Michael Hussey was left guessing.
The first breakthrough, though, was effected by Narine, who sneaked one through the bat and pad of Hussey. It was a strong comeback by the West Indies bowler after his second delivery was deposited into the crowd by Aditya Tare (24).
Spin was introduced from both ends early into the Mumbai innings, and Kallis was handed the ball only after Mumbai managed only 32 in the first powerplay.
Hussey's departure brought Rayudu in the middle and giving him company was Tare, who was on the lookout for quick runs.
However, with pressure building up, Tare succumbed when he gave a high return catch to Shakib Al Hasan, who held on to the ball after a fumble.
There was a partnership of 61 runs for the third wicket between Rohit Sharma and Rayudu. But the two fell in quick succession and after that the task was beyond even for the ever-dangerous Kieron Pollard.
Earlier, the start was far from ideal for Knight Riders as they lost skipper Gautam Gambhir for nought in the second over to Malinga. The experienced left-hander had no answer to the Sri Lankan slinger's yorker that uprooted the stumps.
Pandey and Kallis added valuable runs for the second wicket, ensuring there was no further jolt for KKR till the 17th over.
Pandey played some effective shots to keep the Mumbai attack at bay, even as Kallis stood firm at the other end, preferring to score at around a run-a-ball.
While Kallis was looking to steady the ship after the captain's early dismissal, Pandey launched into IPL debutant Corey Anderson, hitting the New Zealand all-rounder for a six and four. The tournament's first six went straight over the bowler's head as Pandey punished the over-pitched delivery with ease.
Spin was introduced after KKR scored just 31 runs in the first powerplay.
Mumbai, though, failed to make a breakthrough as KKR amassed 63 for one at the half-way stage.
Kallis, meanwhile, upped the tempo by picking Pragyan Ojha for special treatment, smashing 20 runs, inclusive of two sixes and a four, which also saw the team cross the 100-run mark.
The South African then lofted Kieron Pollard on the on-side for another boundary as the Mumbai outfit got frustrated.
A dropped catch by Malinga off Pollard suddenly assumed significance as Kallis, then batting on 34, opened up after that.
A flurry of fours and sixes followed and Kolkata were sitting pretty when they entered the final overs.
Malinga, brought back for his second spell, immediately knocked over Pandey's off-stump to give his side a much-needed breakthrough. Kallis departed two balls later and Shakib Al Hasan to the last delivery of that 19th over. But, by thenm KKR were KKR were 149-5.
Suryakumar Yadav then hit a brisk 13 off five balls, including three fours, to help Kolkata finish with a healthy163-5 from the 20 overs.
Image: Jacques Kallis