The Mumbai Indians (MI) have comfortably defeated the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) in the last league game to reach the top of the points table. The El Clasico, as termed by MI skipper Rohit Sharma, will take place for the third time this season as MI and CSK will lock horns at the Chepauk on Tuesday. 

With KKR losing, the Sunrisers Hyderabad became the first team in the history of the franchise-based T20 league to qualify for the playoffs with 12 points to their name. They will be facing the Delhi Capitals (DC) in the eliminator.

After losing the toss, Chris Lynn provided the team with an impressive start. It seemed to be a high-scoring game as KKR ended up with 49 runs for the loss of one wicket in the first six overs. But soon after the powerplay, they lost all the momentum, and only 16 runs were scored in the next six overs. They never recovered from this phase. 

The chase was always going to be a cakewalk for the home team with the dew coming on. Quinton de Kock slammed 30 off 23 balls before getting out and then Rohit Sharma, along with Suryakumar Yadav, seamlessly took the team over the finish line. They chased down the total quickly and in the 17th over KKR never looked like the favourites to win the game.

Mumbai Indians topped the points table pushing Chennai down to the second spot while DC’s massive loss against the Men in Yellow cost them a top-two finish. They will have to win the eliminator after playing so well throughout the season.

Let’s look at the factors which helped Mumbai Indians finish top of the points table: 

1. Robin Uthappa scored 40 runs off 47 balls in a crucial game

Uthappa came out to bat, and he couldn’t connect to the ball. He was trying to play the big shots, but he could not. He put a lot of pressure on his team and let Mumbai take the momentum when he played out a maiden over from Mitchell McClenaghan in the 11th over. 

The fast bowler became only the third bowler from the Mumbai side to bowl a maiden over this season. KKR were struggling at 61 for the loss of two wickets with Dinesh Karthik at the other end.

The Kolkata captain also had trouble hitting the big shots and was dismissed for three runs by Lasith Malinga in the 13th over. When Andre Russell walked out to bat, Mumbai had the momentum, and Malinga sealed the deal when he induced a glove from Russell in his first ball. 

Quinton de Kock took the simplest of catches behind the stumps as the Kolkata Knight Riders lost all of their hopes of registering a big total.
Robin Uthappa and Nitish Rana managed a few big shots in the next few overs, but they were never going to be enough. Eventually, Uthappa was dismissed for 40 runs from 47 balls in the final over as KKR managed a below-par total of 133 for the loss of seven wickets in 20 overs.

2. Andre Russell’s golden duck

Russell getting out for a first ball duck was also a body blow for the Knight Riders. Russell had been KKR’s go-to-man whenever they have been faced with trouble and the Kolkata franchise badly needed the Jamaican to fire in this must-win match.

Russell had set the stage on fire in the IPL this season with his lusty hitting and no total seemed out of reach for KKR with DreRuss in the crease.

Also read: Here's the secret behind the success of 'Russellmania' 2.0

KKR needed someone to overturn the harm done by Robin Uthappa batting at snail’s pace. And Russell could have been the man to do it, but Mumbai veteran Lasith Malinga.

Lasith Malinga put paid to KKR’s hopes by sending back KKR’s key man.

These two factors ensured that KKR could never get to a score that could challenge their nemesis Mumbai Indians. Sunrisers’ loss to ever-strugglers Royal Challengers Bangalore gave KKR a lifeline which they could not make use of and hence, KKR’s season ended with a whimper having promised a lot at the start of the season.