By Suhas Nayse – SJFI Member
MUMBAI INDIANS WERE back on track with a thumping 48-run victory against Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) in the Dream11 Indian Premier League at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi on Thursday. MI seemed to be on a mission and handed KXIP their third defeat in four matches. The defending champions perhaps played their best cricket on Thursday. They needed to come up with some special performance and they did exactly that.
Mumbai Indians batsmen performed superbly and their bowlers did an even better job to completely outclass Kings XI Punjab. It was a disciplined bowling effort backed strongly by sharp fielding.
Chasing a daunting 192 for a victory, Kings XI Punjab got off to a steady start with KL Rahul (17) and Mayank Agarwal (25). After the two openers’ dismissal, the fragile middle-order was badly exposed as the run chase crumbled like a pack of cards. Nicholas Pooran was the lone ranger as the West Indian left-hander scored a solid 44 off 27 but lacked support. Highly-rated Glenn Maxwell failed again with the bat.
Jasprit Bumrah, James Pattinson and Rahul Chahar picked up a couple of wickets each. The trio was well supported by Trent Boult and Krunal Pandya, who returned with a wicket each.
With this easy win, Mumbai Indians now have four points from as many matches and jumped to the top of the table on net run rate. Four more teams were bunched together with four points each.
Earlier, a breath-taking batting performance by Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard after a brilliant half-century by Rohit Sharma propelled Mumbai Indians to 191 for 4, a score which literally out-batted KXIP. It was an exhibition of power hitting by Pollard and Pandya as the duo rained fours and sixes to give the Mumbai Indians a perfect finish. They added 67 runs in just 23 balls.
In the last five overs, Mumbai Indians piled up 89 runs at a whopping run-rate of 17.80 per over. Pollard blasted an explosive unbeaten 47. The giant batsman hammered three fours and four effortless sixes and faced just 20 balls. The MI veteran finished with a strike rate of 235.
Pandya was even more brutal in his assault and ended up with a strike rate of 272.72. The ace all-rounder smashed an undefeated 30 off just 11 deliveries and pummelled three boundaries and a couple of huge sixes, much to the frustration of opposing skipper KL Rahul, who opted to bowl first after winning the toss.
At one stage Mumbai Indians were struggling at 83 for 3 in the 14th over. When Rohit Sharma was caught at the long on fence by James Neesham while hitting a six off Mohammed Shami, the score read 124 for 4 in 16.1 overs. Rohit Sharma made a second half century of the season with a polished 70. The MI skipper faced 45 balls and struck 8 fours and three sixes to lead from the front.
Suryakumar Yadav was run out at his personal score of 10 (7 balls, 2×4). In-form Ishan Kishan, who played an epic knock of 99 against Royal Challengers Bangalore a few days back, continued his fine run and scored 28 runs. Although Ishan was slow, he added crucial 62 runs for the third wicket to put his team back on track after the early departures of Quinton de Kock and Yadav. Barring Sheldon Cottrell (1 for 20 from his 4 overs), all the KXIP bowlers were expensive. Mohammed Shami and K Gowtham took a wicket each but bore the brunt of Pollard and Pandya towards the finish.
On Friday, last year’s runners-up and three-time champions Chennai Super Kings will take on Sunrisers Hyderabad at Dubai. Both the teams have two points from three matches.
Brief scores: Mumbai Indians 191 for 4 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 70, Kieron Pollard 47 not out, Hardik Pandya 30 not out, Ishan Kishan 28, Suryakumar Yadav 10; Sheldon Cottrell 1-20, Mohammed Shami 1-36, K Gowtham 1-45) beat Kings XI Punjab 143 for 8 in 20 overs (Nicholas Pooran 44, Mayank Agarwal 25, K Gowtham 22 not out, KL Rahul 17, Glenn Maxwell 11; Jasprit Bumrah 2-18, Rahul Chahar 2-26, James Pattinson 2-28, Krunal Pandya 1-27, Trent Boult 1-42) by 48 runs. Man-of-the-match: Kieron Pollard (Mumbai Indians).