It was another match-winning performance from Kolkata Knight Riders' (KKR) trump card and mystery spinner Sunil Narine, who scalped four wickets giving away just 20 runs to rattle Mumbai Indians's (MI) chase after Jacques Kallis and Manish Pandey set them a target of 164 in the opening game of Indian Premier League's (IPL) seventh season at Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Opting to bat, KKR rode on Kallis (72) and Manish Pandey's (64) half-centuries to post a competitive 163 for 5 before restricting Mumbai Indians to 122 for 7 at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. KKR's innings was built on a 131-run second-wicket partnership between Kallis and Pandey.
Pace spearhead Lasith Malinga was the pick of Mumbai bowlers, finishing with figures of 4 for 23. But the Lankan speedster's effort was not enough and neither was Ambati Rayudu's 40-ball 48.
After Kallis and Pandey's exploits with the bat, Morne Morkel and Narine showed KKR the way with the ball. Morkel registered economical figures of 1 for 16, with just two runs coming off his first two overs.
Mumbai were off to a subdued start with Morkel not providing anything loose. The tall South African pacer was bowling to such an impeccable line and length that even the experienced Michael Hussey had no answer.
The first breakthrough, though, was effected by Narine, who sneaked one through the bat and pad of Hussey. It was a strong comeback by Narine after the Trinidadian's second ball was deposited into the crowd by Aditya Tare (24).
Spin was introduced from both ends early into Mumbai innings. Kallis was handed the ball after Mumbai managed only 32 in Powerplay.
Hussey's departure brought Ambati 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 onto it 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 for even the ever-dangerous Kieron Pollard.
Earlier, Pandey struck 64 off 53 balls with the help of six fours and two sixes. KKR mustered 73 runs in the last six overs, with 14 coming in the final one, courtesy Suryakumar Yadav.
Kallis, who got a reprieve on 34, found the fence five times and cleared it thrice.
The start was far from ideal for Kolkata as they lost skipper Gautam Gambhir for a duck in the second over to Malinga. The experienced left-hander had no answer to the Sri Lankan's yorker that uprooted the stumps.
Pandey and Kallis added valuable runs for the second wicket, ensuring there was no further jolt for KKR until the 17th over.
Pandey, during his knock, played some effective shots to keep the Mumbai attack at bay, even as Kallis stood steady at the other end preferring to score at around run-a-ball.
While Kallis was looking to steady the ship after the captain's early dismissal, Pandey launched an attack on IPL debutant Corey Anderson, hitting the New Zealand allrounder for a six and a 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 managed just 31 runs in Powerplay. Mumbai, though, failed to make a breakthrough as KKR reached 63 for 1 at the halfway stage.
Kallis, meanwhile, upped the tempo by picking Pragyan Ojha for special treatment, smashing 20 runs with the help of two sixes and a four, which also saw the team cross the 100-run mark.
The South African then lofted Pollard on the on-side for another boundary as the Mumbai outfit started getting frustrated.
The 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.
With inputs from PTI