KOLKATA, April 8 (PTI): Kolkata Knight Riders launched their title defence on a perfect note as skipper Gautam Gambhir and Suryakumar Yadav drove them to a seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indians in the IPL-8 T20 cricket tournament opener here today.
Chasing 169 for a win, Gambhir�s 43-ball 57 (7x4, 1x6) led the KKR charge, while Suryakumar�s unbeaten 46 off 20 deliveries helped them canter to their target in 18.3 overs.
But it was the 85-run second wicket partnership between Gambhir and no. 3 Manish Pandey (40) that set up the chase.
There was some respite after the visitors dismissed the duo but ironically they found their nemesis in a familiar Mumbaikar Suryakumar, who led Mumbai in Ranji Trophy this season. The talented youngster, who came in at 121/3 with 48 required from 34 balls, hit some sensational shots that included a four and 5 sixes. Yusuf Pathan was also unbeaten on 14.
Corey Anderson, Jasprit Bumrah and Harbhajan Singh picked up a wicket each.
Earlier, Rohit Sharma showed why Eden Gardens is special to him as he followed up his ODI world record 264 (vs Sri Lanka in November, 2013) with an entertaining unbeaten 98 from 65 balls (12x4, 4x6).
Umesh Yadav bore the brunt of Sharma�s fury as six of his 12 boundaries came against the India ace speedster.
Put in, the visitors lost two wickets in three balls and looked shaky 37/3 after a fiery spell from man-of-the-match Morne Morkel (2/18) but Sharma, who had struck an ODI world record 264 here in November last year, was again in his elegant best.
Sharma dissected the field with elegance and picked Indian speedster Umesh Yadav as his bunny en route to his 22nd IPL half-century.
Mumbai Indians: Rohit Sharma 98 not out, Aaron Finch c Umesh Yadav b Morkel 5, Aditya Tare c Umesh Yadav b Shakib Al Hasan 7, Ambati Rayudu c Pathan b Morkel 0, Corey Anderson 55 not out. Extras: (lb 1, w 2) 3. Total: (3 wickets; 20 overs) 168 (8.40 runs per over) Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-37, 3-37. Bowling: Umesh Yadav 3-0-36-0, Morne Morkel 4-1-18-2, Shakib Al Hasan 4-0-48-1, Sunil Narine 4-0-28-0, Andre Russell 3-0-21-0, Piyush Chawla 2-0-16-0.
Kolkata Knight Riders: Robin Uthappa c Harbhajan Singh b Anderson 9, Gautam Gambhir c Rayudu b Bumrah 57, Manish Pandey c Pollard b Harbhajan Singh 40, Suryakumar Yadav 46 not out, Yusuf Pathan 14 not out. Extras: (lb 2, w 2) 4. Total: (3 wickets; 18.3 overs) 170. Fall of wickets 1-13, 2-98, 3-121. Bowling: Lasith Malinga 4-0-27-0, R Vinay Kumar 3-0-16-0, Corey Anderson 2-0-21-1, Jasprit Bumrah 3.3-0-38-1, Pragyan Ojha 2-0-23-0, Harbhajan Singh 4-0-38-1.