Even though Mumbai Indians were back at their fortress — the Wankhede Stadium — after five successive losses in the UAE, not many gave them a chance against an in-form Kings XI Punjab. But on Saturday, the Rohit Sharma-led outfit reminded everybody that they were still in business courtesy an exciting five-wicket win, their first in IPL-7.
For once, Mumbai’s batting, which had failed miserably in the Gulf kingdom, collectively came good as the home side chased down a stiff 168-run target on a good wicket. They won with five balls to spare thanks to some big hitting in the end from Corey Anderson (35, 25 balls, 3x4, 2x6), Kieron Pollard (28*, 12 balls, 2x6, 2x4) and Aditya Tare (16*, 6 balls, 1x4, 1x5) in the end.
The target was not a difficult one, but given the recent form of the Mumbai batsmen, all money was on Punjab. Mumbai, who had struggled to find a perfect combination, again shuffled their batting order as Sharma sent the promising CM Gautam to open the innings with Ben Dunk. The latter got out early to Sandeep Sharma. Ambati Rayudu followed him after hitting two fours, but Gautam lived up to expectations.
He notched up a 29-ball 33 with two sixes and two fours and stitched a 47-run stand for the third wicket with Sharma.
Gautam scooped one over short fine-leg before hitting a couple of elegant shots over the ropes — one over extra cover and the other over mid-wicket. However, an audacious reverse shot off Rishi Dhawan cost him his wicket.
New Zealander Anderson has had quite a season so far. That’s precisely why Mumbai shelled out big money for him. However, it took the burly all-rounder six games to finally realise his potential in the IPL. The left-hander hammered a quickfire 35 and stitched a 53-run stand for the fourth wicket with Sharma. Anderson went hammer and tongs against left-arm spinner Akshar Patel who gave away 20 runs in one over.
But Punjab bounced back quickly by bowling some tight overs, scalping Sharma and Anderson in successive overs.
Needing 41 from 18 balls, Pollard and Tare went berserk. They collected getting 36 runs in two overs (17th and 18th). When Sandeep Sharma ran in to bowl the last over, Mumbai needed just five. Pollard needed just one delivery to seal the issue. He ended Mumbai’s agonising run of defeats with a loft over the long-off boundary.
Earlier Punjab, who chose to bat, used the favourable conditions to put up a solid total. Much was expected from Glenn Maxwell, and the Aussie produced a brilliant cameo (45 off 27). Meanwhile, Wriddhiman Saha scored his first half-century of IPL-7 (59 off 45) as Punjab posted 168. For Mumbai, Harbhajan Singh was the pick of bowlers with two wickets for 34 runs while Zaheer Khan had to walk away in his last over after a shoulder injury while bowling.