It was James Franklin, who struck a brilliant 45 in 23 balls helped Mumbai Indians pull off a sensational five wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders in their last league match of the IPL Sunday at Eden Gardens. Ironically, KKR pacer Laxmipathy Balaji turned as the villain as he could not restrict Mumbai Indians score needed 21 runs from his last over. Fraklin thrashed Balaji by hitting four consecutive fours and a towering six. Young Hyderabad-lad Ambati Rayudu (17 not out of 6 balls) then drew curtains to the match in style clobbering Balaji over the square-led fence to silence the sellout Eden crowd and bring the Mumbai outfit back on winning track after three consecutive defeats. This win helped Mumbai to secure third position with 18 points from 14 matches ahead of Kolkata Knight Riders, who have 16 points from as many games. Contrary to this, by virtue of their comprehensive victory over Chennai Super Kings earlier in the day, Royal Challengers Bangalore tops the table with 19 points from 14 matches. Though, Chennai Super Kings and Mumbai Indians have similar points, the former remained in the second spot because of a better net run rate.
Royal Challengers will now take on Chennai Super Kings in the first qualifier on Tuesday at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, while the Knight Riders will be up against Mumbai Indians yet again in the eliminator on Wednesday at the same venue. Put into bat, the Knight Riders lost two quick wickets with the scoreboard reading 22 but Jacques Kallis displayed a cool head and guided the home team innings with a 42-ball 59.
Together with Manoj Tiwary (35 off 22) and Yusuf Pathan (36 off 27), Kallis shared 47 and 57 runs for the third and fourth wickets respectively to set the platform for Knight Riders` challenging score of 175 for seven. For Kolkata Knight Riders, it was Rajat Bhatia, who returned with fine figures of three for 22 runs, gave some hopes to turn the tables on Mumbai Indians. But, at the end, it turned out to be otherwise.