Rising Pune Supergiant completed the double over Mumbai Indians in this Indian Premier League season, beating their Maharashtra derby rivals by three runs at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday. The defeat was only Mumbai’s second of the season in eight matches, with Pune being the only team that has managed to beat them. Pune, thereby, recorded their third win on the trot following a slow start to the season. The result, however, did not change the positions of the two teams in the table, with Mumbai maintaining their top spot and Pune staying at fourth.
Bhajji’s 200th T20 wicket, Mumbai’s tight bowling
Mumbai Indians won the toss on a dry and slow-looking wicket at the Wankhede, and opted to bowl. Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi put on a solid, if not quickfire, opening partnership, putting on 74 runs in the first nine overs, before Karn Sharma dismissed both of them in back-to-back overs in his Mumbai Indians debut.
Pune skipper Steve Smith was dropped on his first ball, but could not profit from his extra life as he was foxed by a slower one from Harbhajan Singh, who picked up his 200th T20 wicket. Harbhajan bowled brilliantly throughout the innings, not conceding a single boundary and ending up with figures of 1/20 in his four overs.
Ben Stokes and MS Dhoni both flopped, before Manoj Tiwary came in at No 6 and got a quick 22 off 13 balls to help Pune reach 160. Tiwary, who has been in good form this season, came in to bat only in the 17th over of the innings and you can’t help but wonder what he could have done had be been promoted. Tiwary currently has the highest batting average (45.66) and strike rate (167.07) in his team.
Mumbai bowled brilliantly at the death, conceding only 40 runs in the last five overs, thanks to some tight and accurate bowling by Jasprit Bumrah (2/29) and Mitchell McCleneghan (0/36).
The Wankhede Stadium doesn’t need a reason to chant home boy Sachin Tendulkar’s name, even years after his retirement, but the spectators present on Monday had an extra reason to – the Little Master was celebrating his 44th birthday. The entire stadium sang Tendulkar the Happy Birthday song, even as Matthew Hayden came down from the commentary box and interviewed the Little Master for two entire overs. Tendulkar was more than obliging and took the opportunity to promote his biopic, which is releasing on May 26, even as the focus shifted off the Pune openers, Rahane and Tripathi, who were batting at the time.
Rohit Sharma strikes form, but Stokes ruins his party
Rohit Sharma was having a lean IPL. If you ignore his 40 not out against Gujarat Lions, his scores this season prior to Monday’s game were: 3, 2, 4, 0, 5. As has been the case this season, Sharma walked in to bat at two-down, in the eighth over with Mumbai’s score at 51/2. He lost Parthiv Patel and Nitish Rana early, as Mumbai slipped to 86/4 and their required rate climbed over nine.
Kieron Pollard stuck around for a while, taking the equation to 39 required off the last four, before Steve Smith took a great catch running to his left from long-off to dismiss the big-hitting Trinidadian. As Hardik Pandya came out to join his skipper and took the rest of the 17th over to settle in, the equation tightened to 35 required off the last three overs.
Pandya made up for it the next over, bowled by Jaidev Unadkat, even as Sharma brought up his first half-century of the season, in 33 balls. Mumbai needed two runs a ball in the final two overs. Ben Stokes was having none of it, bowling an excellent penultimate over, giving away only seven runs, leaving Mumbai with 17 runs to score off the last six balls.
Stokes wasn’t done yet, even after his brilliant figures of 2/21 in his four overs. As Pandya went for the slash off the first ball of the final over, Stokes ran in from long-off and took a superb diving catch to add further pressure on Mumbai. The two batsmen crossed over while the ball was in the air, which put Sharma on strike. The Mumbai skipper cracked Unadkat high up in the air and just long enough to bounce over the rope. However, he wasn’t to be so lucky a ball later as he holed out to the bowler. That was that, as Mumbai ended up short by three runs.
Rising Pune Supergiant 160/6 in 20 overs (Rahul Tripathi 45, Ajinkya Rahane 38; Jasprit Bumrah 2/29, Karn Sharma 2/39) beat Mumbai Indians 157/8 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 58, Parthiv Patel 33; Ben Stokes 2/21, Jaidev Unadkat 2/40) by three runs.