Mumbai Indians pulled off a much-needed victory against Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday (May 6), keeping them in contention for the playoffs in the 11th edition of the IPL. And it was Krunal and Hardik Pandya that helped MI defend 182 on a humid afternoon at the Wankhede Stadium.
Hardik’s performance of 2/19 in his four overs, and a 20-ball 35 cameo, won him the player of the match award, but his older sibling’s contribution was equally important in keeping KKR away from the target.
Krunal picked up two catches on the day – a straightforward chance of Shubman Gill off his brother’s bowling in the fourth over, followed by a skier to dismiss Andre Russell in the death overs.
Looking to accelerate the run-rate, the all-rounder top-edged a bouncer from Jasprit Bumrah in the 17th over. While it would have been an easier chance for JP Duminy running in from deep square-leg, Krunal took on the responsibility to take the catch. After swiftly running back from fine-leg, he positioned himself under the ball and dived in front to complete the tough chance. Furthermore, Krunal went on to bowl the final over of the innings and defended 23 runs to ensure MI sealed the victory.
Speaking after the game to iplt20.com, the 27-year-old revealed that he asked Rohit Sharma to let him bowl the final over.
“In the match against Delhi, they needed 11 in the final over. I said to Rohit to give me the ball,” Pandya revealed. “So he knew that I wanted to bowl the last over. This time (against KKR), he came to me in the 19th over itself and said that I was going to bowl the 20th over.”
The skipper’s decision went in favour of the home side as Krunal conceded just nine runs in the final over, handing Mumbai a vital two points which keeps them afloat in the competition.
The all-rounder also credited his brother for his all-round performance and believes that he is constantly improving himself every year.
“I’m really happy for him (Hardik). He has transformed himself as a bowler. He’s improved himself over a period of time. As a cricketer, we all want to improve,” said Krunal. “Whatever he was bowling last year and this year, he’s using his brain. Really happy that he received the purple cap. He’s batting as well as bowling well. And everyone knows that he is a gun fielder.”