IPL 2018 – MI vs KXIP: Rohit, Krunal blitz keeps Mumbai Indians alive

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MAY 4, 2018

Brief Scorecard: Mumbai Indians 176 for 4 (Suryakumar 51, Krunal 31*, Rohit 24*) beat Kings XI Punjab 174 for 6 (Gayle 50, Stoinis 29*, Bumrah 1-19) by six wickets

May 4, 2018: Kings Xi Punjab v Mumba Indians, IPL 2018, Pune – Gayle reached his fourth fifty in five games and brought out the cradle celebration – BCCI

INDORE – Mumbai Indians are on a cliff edge, but not yet weak enough to be pushed off just yet. Rohit Sharma and Krunal Pandya’s unbeaten 56-run stand off 21 deliveries helped them chase down 175 with four balls to spare, after Kings XI Punjab had the upper hand for the most part of the game.

Needing 50 off four overs, Ashwin threw the ball to Afghanistan spinner Mujeeb Ur Rahman, who had picked up two wickets and caused Mumbai’s batsmen much trouble. Rohit responded by hitting him for two sixes. The floodgates truly opened when Marcus Stoinis missed his lengths in the next over as Krunal got stuck in to take 20. This brought the target within touching distance, with four leg byes off a missed heave sealing Mumbai’s third win in nine matches.

Gayle-Rahul party continues

On Friday, Mumbai came up with a clear plan against Chris Gayle: to hit hard lengths, target his rib cage and not give him any width to swing or bowl full in his hitting arc. This left Gayle on one off eight balls at one stage. The fluency was missing, the timing was off and KL Rahul, who began with a sparkling inside-out six over extra cover off Mitchell McClenaghan was denied strike. But in hitting Hardik Pandya for three fours in the fourth over, Gayle caught up to get Kings XI back up again. His hoisting of Mitchell McClenaghan for a 92-metre six that cleared the roofs at deep square leg marked his arrival.

Kings XI averaged 59 in the Powerplay coming into this game. Here, they were only marginally slower: 49 for 0, but considering how dangerous the pair have been so far – four fifty-plus opening stands coming into the game – they would’ve taken it. They brought up their fifth fifty-plus score, but were soon separated when Rahul picked out JP Duminy at deep midwicket off Mayank Markande’s half-tracker in the seventh over.

No end to Yuvraj’s struggle

Yuvraj’s Smart Strike Rate of 40.32 this season was the poorest among 51 batsmen who’ve faced at least 50 balls this season. He started slowly again after being promoted to No. 3, making just five off the first nine balls he faced. Then he smacked Krunal, perhaps held back to negate the Gayle effect, for six over deep midwicket, but that was the highlight in another rusty effort as he was run-out after a second mix-up with Karun Nair. Yuvraj’s efforts: a run-a-ball 14, taking his season’s tally to 34 runs in six innings, the move to drop Manoj Tiwary after just one game looking even more baffling.

Mumbai’s poor finish

Jasprit Bumrah was superb in the Powerplay, superb in the death; his figures of 4-0-19-1 his best so far this season. But that didn’t translate into the finish Mumbai would’ve wanted. After strangulating Kings XI to 135 for 5, they conceded 39 off the last three. Two nights ago in Bengaluru, their final over, bowled by McClenaghan, went for 24. Here, Marcus Stoinis took the final over by Hardik for 21. He finished with 29 off 15 as Kings XI had momentum, even if they may have felt 20 lighter.

Kings XI go spin upfront

Where Mumbai bowled all of five overs of spin, Kings XI bowled those many in the first eight itself. R Ashwin, who kept Evin Lewis and Ishan Kishan quiet, bowled three of those. Then Mujeeb struck off his fourth delivery in the sixth over when Lewis nicked a skidder to Rahul. Kings XI had a tight lid on the runs. Ashwin eventually bowled out by the 11th, with Mumbai needing 99 off 54. Suryakumar Yadav held fort to construct a quick half-century, even as a watchful Kishan, trying to overcome a mini-slump after three ducks in five innings, played himself in. When it got to a point where they had to go, Suryakumar fell to an ugly hoick with Rahul taking a swirler to mount pressure.

The curious case of Rohit’s batting position

Clearly, Yuvraj at No. 3 or Axar Patel at No. 5 weren’t the only surprise moves of the night. Mumbai decided to slot Hardik at No. 4, ahead of Rohit Sharma, who smashed 118 off 43 in a T20I against Sri Lanka during his previous visit to the venue. Here, he came in at the fall of Kishan’s wicket to Mujeeb’s carom ball with Mumbai needing 75 off 42.

The move wasn’t entirely a failure, as Hardik’s 13-ball 23 ensured Mumbai kept up with the asking rate, but his eventual dismissal coupled with Kings XI losing their lengths proved the game-changer. Stoinis, playing in place of Aaron Finch, bowled three slower length balls and a juicy full toss that were picked for three fours and a six in the 17th over. Krunal used the depth of the crease to pick lengths on a true surface to pepper the legside boundaries. That assault helped outpace Rohit as he finished with 31 off 12 to keep Mumbai’s flame burning.


Courtesy/Source: ESPNCricinfo

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