Mumbai top order destroys Kings XI in highest successful chase

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Kings XI Punjab v Mumbai Indians, IPL 2017, Indore

Mumbai Indians 199 for 2 (Buttler 77, Rana 62*, Parthiv 37) beat Kings XI Punjab 198 for 4 (Amla 104*, Maxwell 40) by eight wickets

By: Nikhil Kalro

In the best batting conditions of the IPL, Mumbai Indians coasted to their highest successful IPL chase to reclaim their spot atop the points table. A target of 199 should have been more daunting but such was their dominance that by the 15th over of the innings, the required rate was 1.6. All of that meant Hashim Amla’s maiden T20 hundred, 60-ball 104 stocked with elegance and grace, was in vain. It was also the highest successful chase this season.

Jos Buttler and Nitish Rana struck authoritative fifties in Mumbai’s chase after Parthiv Patel’s 18-ball 37. Buttler found form with a brutish display of power hitting, hammering seven fours and five sixes. Rana saw no need to keep the ball along the ground, striking seven sixes in his unbeaten 62, taking his top spot back at the top of this season’s run-making charts.

T20 batting, a pleasant sight again

Occasionally, T20s are stripped of some of the simple joys of cricket, such as timing or technically-equipped batsmen building an innings. Kings XI have not lacked either. Manan Vohra’s replacement, Shaun Marsh, and Amla are arguably the most pleasant opening pair in this IPL. They immediately showed why.

Marsh’s delectable cuts, drives and pulls were matched by Amla’s beautiful wrists and timing. They raced to 46 before Marsh played his worst stroke – a flick he tried to muscle, instead of relying on his timing.

Saha’s sacrifice

Wriddhiman Saha had laboured to 11 off 14 balls, struggling for fluency. Although his strike rate was lofty, Amla was set on anchoring the innings. Kings XI’s run rate was approaching seven. With plenty of batting resources to come and the chance of a middle-overs collapse relatively low, Saha decided to attack. It didn’t come off – he was bowled off Krunal Pandya, but he allowed more able hitters to use a strong platform. Glenn Maxwell did, thwacking an 18-ball 40, making full use of the second half of the innings.

Malinga v Amla

Lasith Malinga is Mumbai’s slog-overs specialist. Amla is Kings XI’s most equipped batsman to handle Malinga’s variations. Both teams needed their gun overseas players to break the game open. Malinga, though, missed his length too often; his slower balls landed on a full length and skidded onto the bat. Amla wasn’t funky, he stuck to his strengths.

When Malinga bowled at the stumps, Amla hit straight and met the ball at different angles to pick different gaps. When the line was wayward, Amla could use the cross bat without risk. Malinga went for 58 – his most expensive IPL returns. Amla alone took him for 51 of those, the second-most against a bowler in the IPL.

Using the best conditions

The reason M Chinnaswamy Stadium was a favourable chasing ground last season wasn’t just the small boundary dimensions, but also the nature of the surface – even pace and bounce without much turn. Batsmen can hit through the line, and mis-hits take the ball over the boundary. The Holkar Cricket Stadium is the closest resemblance to those characteristics this season.

Despite Kings XI putting up 198, all Mumbai needed was a strong start to keep the asking rate in check. Their openers – Buttler and Parthiv – took it a step further, plundering 82 in the Powerplay. There were 14 boundaries and just six balls not scored off, the second-lowest in IPL history. (ESPNcricinfo)

Nikhil Kalro is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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