Mumbai Indians’ every-so-slim chances of reaching the IPL-7 playoffs remained alive with a clinical 25-run win against Rajasthan Royals in Ahmedabad on Monday.
Michael Hussey’s successful return inspired Mumbai’s inconsistent batting as his 120-run opening stand with Lendl Simmons took the team to a challenging 178 for 3. It was incidentally the first three-figure partnership for MI in 30 games. The batting effort was appreciably backed up by Mumbai bowlers who put up a collective show to restrict RR to 153/8.
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Harbhajan Singh (2/13), Pragyan Ojha (2/30), Krishmar Santokie (2/50) and Shreyas Gopal (2/25) took two wickets each as Rajasthan failed to recover after being reduced to 75/7 in 12 overs.
IPL 7: Mumbai’s slim playoff chances stay alive with win over Rajasthan
Photo credit: BCCI.
Rajasthan remain at the third position with 14 points after Monday’s defeat, though their chances of finishing in the top two are now in jeopardy after two consecutive defeats. Mumbai now have eight points from 11 matches.
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Rajasthan probably paid for their decision to rest the in-form Ajinkya Rahane, Pravin Tambe and Steven Smith together. While Rahane has been their top run-getter, Tambe’s wicket-taking form is one of the main reasons for RR to be in the top half of the leaderboard.
Unmukt Chand (2) and Shane Watson (5) failed to get going with left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha taking both the early wickets to set the tone of Mumbai’s impressive win.
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Sanju Samson’s (2) early departure turned the score 42 for 3, which put Mumbai in the driver’s seat and they never gave up that position till the end.
Rajasthan innings also saw a piece of fielding brilliance by allrounder Kieron Pollard who caught Kevon Cooper at the boundary ropes. Knowing that he would topple over the rope, Pollard threw the ball back in play after catching it and then came back in the field to dive and complete a stunning effort.
Legspinner Shreyas Gopal played his first game for Mumbai and didn’t disappoint as he dismissed Ankit Sharma and Stuart Binny in quick succession to put the match firmly under Mumbai’s control.
At the end of 12 overs, Rajasthan were reeling at 75/7. Faulkner and Hodge did try but there was too much to do in the end.
Earlier, MI top-order fired in one of the rare occasions as they put up a challenging total on the board after a century-plus opening stand.
Comeback man Hussey (56) and Simmons’ (62) century stand was the first since Sachin Tendulkar and Dwayne Smith conjured 163 runs against the same opposition during the 2012 edition. Hussey scored his runs in 39 balls with three fours and two sixes while Simmons took 51 balls, which included six fours and two sixes.
Skipper Rohit showed his big-hitting prowess during a 19-ball cameo that fetched him 40 runs with three fours and four sixes. Rohit and a subdued Pollard (14*) added 56 for the third wicket in five overs.
Hussey and Simmons started cautiously trying to get a measure of the slow Motera track. Hussey, coming back to the team after a disastrous UAE leg, looked confident as he played some fluent drives and cuts peppering the in-field.
Simmons also proved to be an able partner as he started slowly but picked up the pace as time progressed. Both ran well between the wickets converting a couple of singles into twos. MI’s 50 runs came in 6.4 overs with Simmons racing to 30.
Hussey was the first to reach the half-century off 32 balls while Simmons took 43 balls to attain the individual landmark. Their 100-run partnership, MI’s first of the season, came in the 13th over.
Rajasthan drew first blood immediately after the second strategic time-out as Ankit Sharma got both Simmons and Hussey in the same over – both caught in the deep by Cooper.
Ankit ended with impressive figures of two for 23 in four overs.