Mumbai Indians were languishing at the bottom of the table before the start of last night’s game. They have everything to play for and a win is all they would want at this stage. They are the defending champions and the culture cultivated within the dressing room is such that it extracts the best out of the players when they are put through trying circumstances. Mumbai Indians were playing against the Kings XI Punjab for the first time in this year’s IPL. Kings XI Punjab have found a new home in Holkar Cricket Stadium, at Indore, and it would serve as their home ground for the rest of this season.
Mumbai Indians won the toss and Rohit Sharma opted to field first. Historically too, this ground has favored the team batting second. It is a small ground with short boundaries and a good batting surface to go with it. Having a total in front of us always helps and especially with the stage MI is at, it needs clarity now more than ever, with every game being a do-or-die encounter. Rahul and Gayle have been match-winners for the Kings XI Punjab this season. But that is a worrying aspect as only these two players have stood up and won it for the team. Rahul began in an emphatic fashion and hit one glorious six over the covers region to welcome Bumrah. Gayle struggled a bit initially but got going when Hardik came on to bowl. They both put up another 50 plus opening stand and provided a solid foundation.
Markande was introduced straight after the powerplay overs and he provided the much-needed breakthrough. He got lucky to be honest. It was a short ball and Rahul could have deposited it to any of the stands, instead, he hit it straight to Duminy and had to walk back. Gayle played a rather slow innings by his own standards. He made 50 off 40 balls and he would have liked to continue having stayed at the pitch for that long. Yuvraj was in at 3 and his was a scratchy innings. He played and missed a couple of deliveries before attempting a run that was never there in the first place and got out in the process. Karun Nair looked like the one who could take KXIP to a good score and played some out and out screamers. He got out playing the big shot to McClenaghan. MI bowled very well at the back end of KXIP’s innings. Bumrah, after being hit for that six on the first ball of his opening spell, did not concede a single boundary after that. They bowled in the right areas and restricted the run scoring. Hardik was entrusted with the duty to close the innings for MI. He was taken for 22 in the final over and MI would have felt that ghosts of last game had come haunting back.
Evin Lewis had returned to the side and he along with Suryakumar walked out to open the innings or MI. It was a cautious start by the batters and they did not play any shot which had much risk involved. Suryakumar was more free-flowing of the two and that pick-up shot which he played off Rajpoot showed us that he was seeing the ball well. Mujeeb came in to bowl the last over of the powerplay and accounted for the wicket of Evin Lewis straight away. Ishan Kishan was also a bit slow to start and consumed a considerable amount of deliveries before he played his first big shot. In chases like these, one needs to keep the run rate always under check because if you play out some quite overs, it could get out of hands real quick.
Suryakumar reached his fifty, third of the season, with a boundary and was looking good in the middle. He got out trying to go big. Hardik was sent in at no 4 with the obvious intention to get the required run rate down and hit some big shots out of the park. Kishan got out just when he was beginning to loosen up. Onus was now on Rohit to take his side home. He was happy taking singles and give the strike back to Hardik who had the license to go berserk. His cameo came to an end as Tye hit the top of his middle stump. With 50 to get off the final four overs, it was time to get some big overs underway for the Mumbai Indians. Rohit took care of Mujeeb and Krunal ripped apart Stoinis’ 18th over. He played a blinder of an innings, striking at over 250. Mumbai Indians won the match with 6 balls to spare.
Mumbai Indians would have been very happy with this win. They never looked out of it. They bowled well and restricted a strong KXIP unit to under 180 and then chased it with an over to spare. There are a lot of positives to take from this game. They jump straight to being at no.5 in the points table. They would like to carry this momentum going into the next game, which they would be playing at home, against the Kolkata Knight Riders. It would take some effort to qualify for the playoffs, but it is not something which is beyond their reach. I am still backing them to make it to the final four.