Mumbai Indians 137 for 4 (Tiwary 45, Hardik 40*, Bishnoi 2-25) beat Punjab Kings 135 for 6 (Markram 42, Bumrah 2-24) by six wickets
Desperate to register their first win in the 2nd leg of the IPL 2021, Mumbai Indians (MI) limped past the finish line and kept themselves in the hunt for the top 4 slots for the play-offs.
Rohit Sharma won the toss & had no hesitation to bowl first on a batting wicket. He was banking on MI’s batting depth to chase down any target set for them. Saurabh Tiwary found himself back in the playing XI at the expense of out-of -form Ishan Kishan while Coulter-Nile was given the nod ahead of Milne. For Punjab Kings (PBKS), Mandeep replaced injured Mayank Agarwal.
Surprisingly, Gayle did not open especially in the absence of Mayank and openers KL Rahul & Mandeep were off to a sedate start and almost played out the power play without losing wickets but Mandeep fell lbw, sweeping off a wrong length to Krunal in the 6th over. With 38 / 1 at the end of the power play, Krunal had already bowled 3 magnificent overs for 1 wicket & PBKS were already feeling the choke. Pollard came on for a solitary over and grabbed 2 crucial wickets of Gayle & Rahul and reached his milestone 300th T20 wicket with a nice little celebration.
Bumrah jammed a perfect yorker to Pooran for yet another Bumrah special dismissal and with the score 62/4 at the end of 10 overs, MI was the happier side at the halfway of the innings. The 61 run stand between Deepak Hooda (28 of 26) & Aiden Markram (42 in 29 ), lent the score some sort of respectability as PBKS finished with a much below par 135/6 in the allotted 20 overs. Krunal bowled excellently at the top of the innings while Bumrah and Coulter-Nile choked the runs in the final overs. The last 29 balls yielded no boundary shots, such was the unerring accuracy of MI’s death bowling.
That MI made such a heavy weather of chasing a modest, sub-par target, is a reflection of their poor batting form and a measure of their confidence or the lack of. One would have expected MI to finish things in a hurry and try to better their NRR. However, getting the 2 critical points was of primary importance.
PBKS struck early with wickets of consecutive balls from Bishnoi. He accounted for Rohit with an uncharacteristic sweep shot for an easy catch, while the next delivery deceived SKY all ends up as he completely mis-read the googly. PBKS managed to tie MI down for just 30/2 in the powerplay and did not let them run away with the game and in actual fact, kept themselves in the game. QDK was unusually subdued and his patient knock (29 in 27) ended with a Shami delivery back onto his stumps. From there on, the MI score was pretty much following a similar pattern to the PBKS 1st innings though MI always seemed to have an extra wicket in hand. Tiwary’s bold inclusion, immediately paid dividends as his enterprising knock (45 in 37) kept MI in the hunt. With 44 runs needed of 30 balls and 7 wickets in hand, the scales were heavily tilted in MI’s favour though the batting to follow was still a suspect. Tiwary’s dismissal at this critical juncture made a few MI fans jittery but they could still bank on Hardik (40 in 30) and Pollard (15 in 7) to see them through. Hardik was dropped early in his innings when on 7 and that hurt PBKS badly at the end. A wicket at that time, would have surely set the cat amongst the pigeons in the MI camp.
With 40 needed off the last 4 overs and Hardik looking out of sorts, things were getting too close for MI’s comfort. Hardik kept missing the wide outside the off bowling, which seemed to be the plan chalked out for him though he did clatter a 4 and a 6 off in the 17th over from Shami. 13 runs came of Arshdeep, in the 18th over, the most expensive of the innings thanks to some power hitting by Pollard and with 16 needed of the last 2 overs, MI could breathe easy. A couple of fours and a six (once again a drop, that got parried for a 6) by Hardik, sealed the game in the favour of MI in the 19th over and once again MI had dug deep when it was required the most and secured a much needed win.
Pollard bowled 1 over and batted 7 balls but such was his impact, both with the bat and ball, that he was the deserved Man of the Match and nudged Tiwary in the bargain, who has now gone for 14 years and 170 matches without a MoM award in the T20s. This by itself looks like a dubious record to hold.
MI now are breathing down the necks of KKR and RCB with a 5th place at the table but will still be worried about the batting form of Ishan, SKY and even Hardik though he will have some confidence under his belt after today’s knock. PBKS will have some difficult questions to answer and will need a change in plan and even a fresh outlook from the captain, if they have to progress further from here. While, Delhi Chargers & Chennai Super Kings seem to have done enough to be in the top 4, they will want to further solidify with a top 2 finish. Only SunRisers Hyderabad seem to be out of the competition and will be the makers or breakers for the other teams in the upcoming games ahead. The table remains very interestingly poised.