Karn Sharma's selection ahead of Harbhajan Singh in the first qualifier against Rising Pune Supergiant had raised a few eyebrows but the Mumbai Indians management stuck to their guns and played the leg-spinner ahead of the experienced Harbhajan Singh against Kolkata Knight Riders in the second qualifier.
And the leggie repaid the faith by setting up Mumbai's 6-wicket win over Kolkata Knight Riders. Karn Sharma returned with figures of 4/16 from his quota of four overs to break the back of KKR's batting.
He started off by sending back the dangerous Sunil Narine in the fifth over. Narine came out to charge the leg-spinner but Karn smartly bowled it short and wide outside the off stump. Narine missed it completely to be stumped by Parthiv Patel.
He then gave a sucker punch to the Mumbai Indians by removing their skipper Gautam Gambhir for just 12. Gambhir's desire to get some quick runs meant he tried to whack a well flighted delivery from Sharma over the mid-wicket fence. But the southpaw instead was caught in the deep.
Karn Sharma then dismissed Colin de Grandhomme off the very next delivery, trapping him in front of the wicket for a duck with a faster one. This was his third wicket.
KKR tried to stem the rot and the young pair of Ishank Jaggi and Suryakumar Yadav put up a 56-run stand for the sixth wicket to try and salvage something for the 'Men in Purple'.
But Karn Sharma ensured that the partnership did not blossom to the extent that it gets KKR back in the match as he removed Jaggi for 28. By breaking that partnership, Sharma opened the gates to the lower order and the strong Mumbai bowling line-up managed to bowl out KKR for 107.