An incredible display of power hitting at the top from Venkatesh Iyer was not enough on the day as Mumbai Indians beat the Knights by 5 wickets at the Wankhede Stadium.
Put into bat after Mumbai Indians won the toss, the Knights lost Jagadeesan early in the 2nd over which brought Venkatesh Iyer to the crease. The Southpaw who has shown glimpses of his best, scoring his career best 81 against the Gujarat Titans earlier this month, looked in great touch right from the start. Advancing down the wicket to heave debutant Arjun Tendulkar for his first 6 of many, the left hander went on to score the first century for a KKR player ever since Brendon McCullum's now legendary 158 against RCB in the first ever IPL game.
Venkatesh took on the Mumbai attack in a stunning effort that saw him clear the fence 9 times and hit 6 boundaries. Bringing up his 100 off just 49 balls, Venkatesh fell shortly after trying to up the ante to end at 104 of 51 balls. This innings took him to 250 runs off just 4 innings against the Mumbai Indians and also got him to the top of the Orange Cap standings. A late cameo from Andre Russell, helped the Knights post a competitive total of 185 for the loss of 7 wickets.
In reply, the Mumbai Indians began in ominous fashion with Ishan Kishan and Rohit Sharma putting up 65 runs inside the first 5 overs before youngster Suyash Sharma dismissed Rohit Sharma for 21. Soon after, Varun Chakravarthy took the crucial wicket of Ishan Kishan with the score reading 87 of 7.3 overs. The Mumbai keeper was threatening to take the game away from the Knights before Varun castled him for a well made 58. The spinners were getting some purchase from the dry wicket at the Wankhede but a 60 run stand between Surya Kumar Yadav and Tilak Verma once again tilted the match in the favor of the opposition. Suyash then returned to remove Varma for 30 in the 14th over, setting him up perfectly by bowling a couple of googlies and then castling him with the leg break to end the partnership. Needing around a run a ball to win from this point, the opposition got home with 14 balls to spare and 5 wickets in hand.
Speaking post the match, Skipper Nitish Rana felt that the Knights were 15-20 runs short while batting but was no short of praise for Venkatesh Iyer's memorable 100 earlier in the day. He stated that most of the boys in the dressing room knew that this century is the first KKR century since the first ever game in the IPL and it has inspired other batsmen in the team to go looking for the same in the games to come. Speaking about his innings, Venkatesh Iyer said that he knows what his role in the current setup is and he will back himself to take on the opposition at any stage of the innings. He thanked the coaching staff for believing in him and said that Abhishek Nayyar has been key to helping him better his game and personality over the last few months.
The Knights will now return home to Kolkata before they travel to Delhi to take on the Delhi Capitals on Thursday.