Though it took them two years to return to winning ways in Twenty20, it could not have come on a sweeter note. Mumbai players celebrated Gudi Padwa by crushing defending champions Gujarat by six wickets at the Mumbai Cricket Association-Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) ground on Monday – their first Mushtaq Ali Trophy win after going down to Punjab in the semifinals in March 2012 at the same venue and going winless in the 2012-13 season.
The win, coming less than 16 hours after their 19-run loss to Baroda on Sunday night, was the perfect Maharashtrian New Year gift to Mumbaikars by Zaheer Khan and Co.
After restricting Gujarat to 126/9, Mumbai cruised to victory in 18.3 overs, the win coming when India Under-19 batsman Shreyas Iyer effortlessly pulled medium-pacer Mehul Patel for a six over wide long-on.
Wicket-keeper batsman Aditya Tare impressed his Mumbai Indians coaches comprising John Wright, Paras Mhambrey and Kiran More, all of whom were at the ground taking note of their IPL players. He top-scored with 55 (46b, 4x4, 3x6) and guided Mumbai home along with his left-handed opening partner Kevin Almeida, who scored 32 (32b, 5x4).
The way Tare and Almeida began the Mumbai chase, it looked like they would accomplish the task undefeated. They had to be cautious as Tare later said that it was not a typical BKC pitch where the ball came nicely on to the bat. Yet, the manner in which they went about the business, onlookers at the ground found nothing wrong with the pitch.
Almeida, after his crisp hits over the infield, edged medium-pacer Rohit Dahiya to Parthiv's gloves after Mumbai reached 50. Tare was bowled by the same bowler soon after his personal half-century.
Left-handers Abhishek Nayar and Sushant Marathe ought to have finished the job. But Marathe was caught brilliantly at short mid-on by Bhatt off Dahiya. Mumbai lost another wicket when Suryakumar Yadav took off for a non-existent single and was done in by a direct hit by Jesal Karia at short covers.
However, Nayar and Iyer ensured that Mumbai lost no further wicket.
For the second successive game in this West Zone leg, Mumbai won the toss and chose to bowl. They know their strength is bowling and dominated from the first over when Zaheer castled his former India team-mate and rival captain Parthiv Patel.
Gujarat's batting is heavily dependent on Parthiv. His early departure on Monday for zero, and senior pro Y Venugopala Rao's quick dismissal for one courtesy Zaheer's sharp fielding at short third man, meant Gujarat needed mammoth efforts from the rest.
Gujarat batsmen tried their best. Opener Rajdeep Darbar and No. 3 Rujul Bhatt each made 31 and kept the scoreboard ticking as Zaheer rotated his bowlers, giving them short one-over and two-over spells. The duo shared 49 for the second wicket in six overs.
Tuesday is a rest day. Mumbai next take on Saurashtra at BKC ground on Wednesday morning.