Mumbai Indians found themselves at the receiving end of a special knock. It was coming from one of their ex-players who, in hindsight, might have found the extra motivation to perform the way he did last night. It is cut-throat competition for the fourth slot at the points table and both the teams that were playing against each other are in contention for the same. Rajasthan Royals were playing against the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede. With just a few games to go in the league stage, every game is producing a new equation for the teams looking to make it to the final four.
Rahane won the toss and chose to field first. RR must have been high on confidence, having won a final over thriller against CSK in their last outing. MI too, have been in good form as a team, and both would have wanted to cash in on the momentum. Mumbai Indians began in an emphatic fashion, scoring 14 off the first over. They scored at a brisk pace during the powerplay overs. More importantly, Suryakumar and Lewis built a solid platform for the rest of the guys to follow. Suryakumar looked in good nick and Lewis found the middle of his bat more often than naught. Archer struck in his second spell and got Surya out caught at long leg. Rohit came in and got out on the first delivery! He is a compulsive puller, got a short one, could not resist the temptation, found the middle, and he hit it flat and straight to deep fine leg!
Wankhede was stunned. From a position of strength, suddenly they found themselves in a precarious situation. Previous game’s man of the match for the Mumbai Indians, Ishan Kishan, was in at 4. Lewis kept going at the other end and reached his fifty. He hit 8 boundaries, of which four went directly over the ropes. He slashed hard at one and found Samson at deep point. Kishan took on Stokes in the next over and perished. Pandya brothers were at the crease and runs had dried up. There were a lot of dot balls, slower balls, slower bouncers bowled by Archer and Unadkat. Hardik did the bulk of the scoring in the final overs and helped MI put up a decent total of 168. It was never going to be enough. Wankhede stadium had seen much bigger totals chased down with ease and with dew making its way to the ground, it was going to be all the more difficult.
Buttler and Short opened the batting for RR. Short got a beauty first up from Bumrah and he luckily managed to get some bat on it. A couple of deliveries later, he induced a genuine edge form Short and Kishan made no mistakes behind the wickets. MI were very much in it. Mitch and Krunal kept things tight from their ends as well. But a boundary was always around the corner and both, Rahane and Buttler, managed to get them without taking any risk. They were going along very well and MI were looking for just one breakthrough that would have set the floodgates open, the way it did for them. The second wicket came in the 14th over, with just a little over 60 left to chase.
Rahane was looking to play the big shot and charged down Hardik. Suryakumar came in from the long off boundary and slipped but held on to the catch. Buttler however, was dispatching them into the stands with ease. He caressed a couple of cover drives off Hardik where sweeper cover had just a few meters to cover but could not stop. Such was the power behind the shots. Samson wanted to finish things up quickly and hit a couple of fours and sixes during his short stay in the middle. Quite fittingly, Buttler hit the winning shot for his team.
It was a decent effort by the Mumbai Indians. There was nothing extraordinary from them. With the kind of start they had had in the tournament, it was imperative that going forward, at least a couple of match-winning performances every match had to be produced in order for them to win all the games. Their net run rate is still pretty healthy and there is a good chance of fourth team qualifying with 14 points. Mumbai Indians have two more games to go. They must believe they can pull it off. Also, they would be hoping for a couple of other results to go their way. But such is the nature of this great sport, that any team can beat any opposition on their day. This shows the competitiveness of the tournament and is the reason why this league is the best in the world! As for the fans, I would say, just keep supporting our Paltan and they will deliver the goods.