The enthusiastic Mumbai Indians fans, flashed their mobile lights halfway into the Mumbai Indians innings after two light towers at the Wankhede went out. It was their way of egging the defending champions, who faced a must-win situation to be in contention for next week’s play-offs.
Mumbai Indians were at an unhealthy 79/4 after 10 overs, their chances of winning against Kings XI Punjab seemed as dim as the stadium that was poorly light for about 10 minutes that play was halted for.
When the lights returned in full brightness, Mumbai Indians fifth wicket-duo of Krunal Pandya (32) and Kieron Pollard (50) shone brightly with their rescue act of 65 in 36 balls helping MI to a fighting 186/8 – 107 added in the second 10 overs – after being sent in to bat.
Kings XI Punjab, who too had to win to up their chances of a top-four finish, had a chance until the 19th over when opener KL Rahul fell for 94 with his team needing 20 to win off nine deliveries. Rahul’s dismissal spelt doom for KXIP as the visitors went down by three runs.
With this win, Mumbai Indians are still in the race for the play-offs with 12 points and move to fourth in the table. They must win their final match against Delhi Daredevils on Sunday as they have a very healthy net run rate of +0.384. KXIP, are all but out, though they still have an outside chance for the play-offs.
MI’s bowling hero was once against Jasprit Bumrah, who picked up two wickets in the 17th over and then the dangerous Rahul in the 19th to finish with 3/15.
MI knew very well they had to win to stay alive in the tournament. They had to have enough runs to defend. After a quiet first two overs of the match, MI’s in-form Suryakumar Yadav launched into right-arm pacer Ankeet Rajput, who was generous with the short balls. Yadav slammed him for two fours and two sixes including a top-edged pull into the long-leg stands as he picked up 20 runs in their third over.
However, the introduction of Purple Cap owner Tye in the fourth over applied brakes on MI. Tye, who took his third four-wicket bag in four matches, castled the big-hitting Evin Lewis first ball through the gates, the ball angling in nicely to the left-hander and beating the forward-pushing West Indian.
Tye added two more scalps off successive deliveries in his second over, the last of the Power Play. Ishan Kishan, who, in the previous over, smashed two successive sixes off Mohit Sharma behind square on either side of the wicket, hoicked Tye to mid-on. Off the next ball, Yadav’s awkward pull found the inside edge on to his thigh before popping up to the wicketkeeper.
But for Tye’s brilliant deployment of wicket-taking knuckle balls, MI’s power-play score would have much more than 60/3, the Australian’s first spell reading 2-0-5-3.
Pressure got to the MI top-order with captain Rohit Sharma’s poor run continuing. He pulled Rajpoot, who gave away 28 runs in his first two overs, without muscle to give Yuvraj Singh a simple catch at mid-on.
The onus was on MI’s comeback man Kieron Pollard, who was dropped for the previous four matches. Not making a mark this IPL with the bat earlier in the tournament, he walked in at the fall of Sharma’s wicket in the ninth over.
The Caribbean had ample overs to prove his worth. The veteran of 421 T20 matches from Trinidad did not let go of this opportunity. He scored his maiden fifty of the tournament, sealed it with his trademark pulled sixes over long-on to take MI to a competitive total.
In the end, Pollard’s selection ahead of JP Duminy proved a worthy move for MI.
Needing to win at 9.35 an over, KXIP were in the hunt until the penultimate over. After Chris Gayle fell early after a brisk 18, Rahul found a perfect ally in Aaron Finch. The Australian found his form at No. 3 after KXIP wasted him lower in the order in the previous matches.
There was a bit of MS Dhoni in the Finch-Rahul duo as far chasing Wednesday’s target was concerned. They calculated their chase during their 111-run second wicket partnership in 74 deliveries, taking it over by over and though they dealt in singles and the odd boundary. They did not panic as they looked to take on the day’s weak MI bowlers Ben Cutting and leg-spinner Mayank Markande in the end to knock Mumbai out of the race for play-offs.
But, Bumrah proved yet again that he is best in the T20 end overs, removing Aaron Finch in the first ball of the 17th over and in the fifth ball, forced Marcus Stoinis to glove a short ball to wicket-keeper.
And, Bumrah hit the final nail into KXIP’s coffin by removing the tired Rahul, who was six short of the century. The asking was too much for Axar Patel or the off-colour Yuvraj Singh to score 20 off the last nine deliveries.
Mumbai Indians: 186 for 8 in 20 overs (K Pollard 50; A Tye 4/16) Kings XI Punjab: 183 for five in 20 overs (KL Rahul 94; J Bumrah 3/15).
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