STRONG pace bowling helped the Mumbai Indians seal top spot in the Indian Premier League (IPL) with a nine-wicket win over the Kolkata Knight Riders and paved the way for Sunrisers Hyderabad to book a spot in this week’s playoffs.
Mumbai seamers Lasith Malinga, Jasprit Bumrah and Hardik Pandya pulled Kolkata back from a brisk start to restrict them to a meagre 133 for seven after captain Rohit Sharma had won the toss and opted to field in the last league stage match.
Malinga picked up three for 35 while Bumrah and Pandya took two wickets apiece as Dinesh Karthik’s men wilted after Australian Chris Lynn, who made 41 off 29 balls, had helped them to 49 for the opening wicket in the first six overs.
Pandya’s brother Krunal was wicketless for Mumbai but tied a knot around Kolkata’s batsmen with his left-arm spin, giving away only 14 runs off his four overs.
The total was never likely to challenge Mumbai at their home Wankhede Stadium and Rohit stubbed out any remaining hopes for Kolkata, who needed a win to overtake Hyderabad for the fourth playoff spot, with an unbeaten 55.
The win, which came with almost four overs to spare, took Mumbai to the top of the standings with 18 points and set up a mouth-watering clash on Tuesday against champions Chennai Super Kings for a spot in Sunday’s final.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s Chennai side and the Delhi Capitals finished tied on points with Mumbai but finished second and third respectively after the net run rate was taken into account.
The losing side from Tuesday’s match will have another shot at making the final of the 2019 edition and will play the winners of the playoff between Delhi and Hyderabad, who are led by New Zealand captain Kane Williamson.