Mumbai Indians bowlers’ nerves are made of steel. This one went down till the last over again. For those who were watching it in their homes, I am sure their heart must have pumped at a speed far greater than normal! Mumbai Indians took on the visiting Kings XI Punjab at their home in Wankhede. It was MI’s last home game in the league stage and the fans got to witness a cracker of a game last night.
Ashwin won the toss and asked the Mumbai Indians to bat first. Mumbai began well. Both the openers have now settled in their roles perfectly and are doing what is required of them at the top. Suryakumar went past 500 runs in the season during the course of his innings. Lewis looked good in the middle. The partnership, however, was short-lived. Andrew Tye bowled a peach of a delivery to Lewis who had his woodwork disturbed to a knuckle-ball. It was pitched just at the perfect length and went on to hit the top of off. In his second over, he had Ishan Kishan caught out at the edge of the inner ring to another slower ball. Yadav departed on the next ball in a rather unlucky fashion.
They were going at a good rate up until that point in time. But with the loss of wickets, it was important for the middle order to get a partnership going and keep the scoreboard ticking. Rohit Sharma tried to pull a delivery which was wide of off and he top-edged that which went straight down Yuvi’s throat. MI were in deep trouble. Both the KP’s were now in the middle for the Mumbai Indians. The team management had shown faith in Pollard and had brought him in the side for this big game. It would have backfired terribly had things not gone the way they did for him last night. He was cautious to begin with but that one punch through the covers for four must have given him a lot of confidence. Together, they took on Ankit, Stoinis, and Axar and the game started drifting away once again from KXIP.
Pollard reached his fifty with a six and showed us exactly what he is capable of. He looked determined to prove a point out there and the celebrations that followed told us how much it meant for him. MI again lost a bunch of wickets in quick succession in the last quarter of their innings. KXIP managed to get in some quiet overs. Mumbai Indians managed to get 186 at the end of their innings. It was an above par score at the ground and they would have been happy with the comeback given where they were at the halfway stage.
Rahul and Gayle came out to open the innings. Bumrah started off well. So did Mitch. Hardik went for plenty in his first. He is the weak link in the bowling unit and tends to be expensive in the powerplay overs. Mitch struck in his second over. He got rid of Gayle with a short delivery. Gayle started off the tournament with a couple of fifties and a hundred but has been struggling since. Finch got a promotion and was sent up the order at no.3. On the other end, Rahul continued to dominate MI bowlers and was scoring freely. He crossed 600 run mark for this season and is the current orange-cap holder. MI were in search of a breakthrough, but both the batsmen were set on the pitch and looked to take the game deep.
Rahul and Finch put up a 111 run partnership. Rahul went past fifty, his sixth of the season. Bumrah came back for his third and final spell. He got rid of Finch on the first delivery. It was on a good length and Finch skied it. Hardik made no mistake and grabbed a rather difficult catch. He went for four in that over and picked up two wickets. Suddenly the inexperienced and short on confidence middle order was exposed. Axar was sent ahead of Yuvraj for a reason only KXIP know. Rahul was the key here. Bumrah bowled a slower one full in length, which Rahul miscued it straight to Cutting at long off. It was the match there. He would have been so distraught with himself.
MI successfully defended their total and won the match by 3 runs. They are now back in the top four in the points table. Kings XI Punjab are now virtually out of the competition unless they beat CSK with a very high margin, which propels their net run rate into something positive. Mumbai Indians have one more game to go, against Delhi Daredevils on Sunday. It’s the final barrier. They must look to go out and win at any cost. I am super proud of the efforts they have put in thus far. Pollard coming to his own has to be the biggest positive from last night’s game. Here’s hoping for an all-round performance by them in the upcoming games.