Mumbai Indians continued their winning streak in the Indian Premier League, picking up their fourth win in five games against Gujarat Lions on Sunday. The win takes them top of the table.
Harbhajan Singh was instrumental in keeping the run-rate in check and keeping the Lions’ total down to 170 in in their quota of overs, with Brendon McCullum and Dinesh Karthik’s classy knocks notwithstanding. Nitish Rana, Kieron Pollard and Rohit Sharma made easy work of the chase. The Mumbai skipper bounced back to form and was instrumental in taking his team over the line.
Finch’s kitbag fiasco, Munaf’s comeback
In a bizarre turn of events, Gujarat Lions opener Aaron Finch sat out of the game after losing his kitbag in Rajkot, and was forced to sit out of the game. One wonders what some of the cricketers of the past, who regularly shared bats, pads, helmets etc. think about this situation?
In other matters, 2011 World Cup winner Munaf Patel made his way back in an Indian Premier League match for the first time in four years. The Lions also gave forgotten man Manpreet Gony his first IPL in four years by picking him in the auctions. Incidentally, Patel was a Mumbai Indians player during his last outing in the franchise-based event.
Mumbai Indians got off to a terrific start, getting rid of the dangerous Dwayne Smith early. The Lions needed inspiration and Brendon McCullum launched into the opposition bowlers. The momentum swing was largely aided by targeting Lasith Malinga, tonking him for two huge sixes.
The former New Zealand skipper looked in solid touch against Kolkata Knight Riders and against Rising Pune Supergiants, against whom he played breezy cameos. Here, he was calculative when going after the bowlers and set a solid platform for his side. Malinga, though, had his revenge in his return spell, castling McCullum for 64.
Take on Bhajji if you can
It was a new day but Harbhajan Singh continued to stifle batsmen with yet another economical spell. In the four games he has played so far, he has ended up with an economy rate of over six just once.
Even some of the cleaners hitters in the game such as McCullum and Suresh Raina struggled with Harbhajan. After hitting the pacers out of the attack, the wily 35-year-old kept the scoring rate in check remarkably.
Raina in particular, had a torrid time against his former teammate, especially with deliveries that were slower in the air. The southpaw, frustrated by the runs drying up holed out for 28 while trying to hit Harbhajan out of the park. The veteran, though, was let down by his support cast. He is not playing One-day cricket here but these are his figures in the IPL so far:
4-0-27-0 vs RPS,
4-0-23-2 vs KKR,
4-0-23-0 vs SRH, 4-0-22-1 vs GL.
Nitish Rana continues to soar
Just like the Lions’ innings, Mumbai also lost an early wicket with Parthiv Patel’s stay at the crease ending cheaply. With quick runs the need of the hour, it was Nitish Rana who took charge of the run-chase while designated power-hitter Jos Buttler sat back and played the sheet-anchor’s role.
Rana kept the scoreboard ticking and found the boundary at regular intervals. A couple of huge hits over the fence yet again underlined his six-hitting prowess. With 193 runs from five games, the Delhi lad holds the purple cap, and on his way to becoming the breakthrough player of the tournament. Luck also smiled brightly on him with Jason Roy dropping a sitter of the impressive Basil Thampi when Rana was on nine.
Are you chasing? Call Pollard, maybe
At the Chinnaswamy Stadium against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Kieran Pollard had to weather the storm before going after the bowlers, a test he passed with flying colours.
Here, the Lions were staging a comeback in the contest after dismissing the well-set Rana and Buttler. With the help of Rohit Sharma, who was finally back amongst the runs, Pollard was at his belligerent best, smashing the ball over the boundary at will.
Yet again, the burly West Indian failed stay till the end of the game, holing to Ravindra Jadeja at deep mid-wicket. The damage though, was already done as Rohit and Hardik Pandya took their side home with elan.