IPL: Rohit, Krunal blitz keeps Mumbai Indians alive


Mumbai Indians 176 for 4 (Suryakumar 51, Krunal 31*, Rohit 24*) beat Kings XI Punjab 174 for 6 (Gayle 50, Stoinis 29*, Bumrah 1-19) by six wickets

Rohit Sharma and Krunal Pandya put up a match-winning 56-run stand, Kings XI Punjab v Mumbai Indians, IPL 2018, Indore, May 4, 2018 ©BCCI

ESPNcricinfo– Mumbai Indians are on a cliff edge, but not yet weak enough to be pushed off just yet. Rohit Sharma and Krunal Pandya’s unbeaten 56-run stand off 21 deliveries helped them chase down 175 with four balls to spare, after Kings XI Punjab had the upper hand for the most part of the game.

Needing 50 off four overs, Ashwin threw the ball to Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who had picked up two wickets and caused Mumbai’s batsmen much trouble. Rohit responded by hitting him for two sixes. The floodgates truly opened when Marcus Stoinis missed his lengths in the next over as Krunal got stuck in to take 20. This brought the target within touching distance, with four leg byes off a missed heave sealing Mumbai’s third win in nine matches.

The Gayle-Rahul party continues

Kings Xi Punjab v Mumba Indians, IPL 2018, Pune Kings XI Punjab were asked to bat, and Chris Gayle teed off after a slow start ©BCCI

Mumbai had a plan for Chris Gayle: to hit hard lengths, target his rib cage, and not give him anything full or wide in his hitting arc. Gayle had scored one off eight balls as a result. His fluency was missing and KL Rahul, who began with a sparkling inside-out six over extra cover off Mitchell McClenaghan, was denied strike. But by hitting Hardik Pandya for three fours in the fourth over, Gayle caught up to get Kings XI going again. His hoist of McClenaghan for a 92-metre six that cleared the roofs at deep square-leg marked his arrival.

Kings XI had averaged 59 in the Powerplay coming into this game. They were slower today – 49 for 0 – but the openers eventually brought up their fifth fifty-plus partnership of the season. They were soon separated, though, when Rahul picked out JP Duminy at deep midwicket off Mayank Markande’s half-tracker in the seventh over.

Yuvraj continues to struggle

Yuvraj’s Smart Strike Rate of 40.32 was the poorest among 51 batsmen who have faced at least 50 balls this season. He started slowly again after being promoted to No. 3, making just five off his first nine balls. Yuvraj then smacked Krunal for six over deep midwicket, but that was the only highlight of another rusty effort as he was run out after a second mix-up with Karun Nair. Yuvraj’s efforts: a run-a-ball 14, taking his season’s tally to 34 in six innings. The move to drop Manoj Tiwary after just one game looking even more baffling.

Mumbai’s poor finish

Jasprit Bumrah was superb in the Powerplay, and superb in the death; his figures of 4-0-19-1 were his best so far this season. But Mumbai still did not get the finish they wanted. After restricting Kings XI to 135 for 5, they conceded 39 off the last three overs. Two nights ago in Bengaluru, their final over, bowled by McClenaghan, went for 24. Here, Marcus Stoinis scored 21 off the last over, from Hardik. Stoinis finished with 29 off 15 and Kings XI had momentum, even though they may have been 20 runs short.

Kings XI use spin upfront

While Mumbai bowled only five overs of spin, Kings XI bowled those many in the first eight overs. R Ashwin, who kept Evin Lewis and Ishan Kishan quiet, bowled three. Then Mujeeb struck with his fourth delivery in the sixth over, when Lewis nicked a skidder to Rahul. Ashwin eventually bowled out by the 11th over, with Mumbai needing 99 off 54. Suryakumar Yadav scored a quick half-century even as a watchful Kishan, trying to overcome a slump of three ducks in five innings, played himself in. When it got to a point where they had to go, Suryakumar fell to an ugly hoick.

Rohit’s batting position

Yuvraj batting at No. 3 and Axar Patel at No. 5 weren’t the only surprises of the night. Mumbai played Hardik at No. 4 ahead of Rohit, who had smashed 118 off 43 against Sri Lanka in his previous T20I in Indore. On Friday, Rohit came in at No. 5 after Kishan fell, with Mumbai needing 75 off 42.

Hardik’s 13-ball 23 ensured Mumbai kept up with the asking rate, but his dismissal brought Krunal to the crease. And then Kings XI lost their lengths. Stoinis, playing in place of Aaron Finch, bowled three slower length balls and a full toss to concede three fours and a six in the 17th over, as Krunal used the depth of the crease on a true surface and found the leg-side boundary. He finished on 31 off 12 balls, Rohit on 24 off 15, and Mumbai had six points, same as the three teams below them in the league.


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