MI head to playoffs riding on confidence
Peaking at the right time!
That’s precisely what Mumbai Indians were up to in the last league match of IPL-V as they crushed Rajasthan Royals by 10 wickets at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur on Sunday evening.
It was a dominating display from the opening pair of Sachin Tendulkar and Dwayne Smith – a surprise change after pursuing with James Franklin and Herschelle Gibbs for the entire season – and the duo chased down the 163-run target set by Rajasthan Royals with startling ease.
MI had already qualified for the final after Rajasthan Royals and Kings XI Punjab lost their respective opportunities of moving towards the play-offs. However, what makes this victory special is that they’ll head into the knockouts now – to be played at Bangalore this week – with a renewed vigour and confidence.
Any result on Sunday wouldn’t have mattered to either side. Rajasthan Royals won the toss and elected to bat first, setting up a competitive total for MI to chase. When asked if MI would have done things any different if the coin fell in their favour, skipper Harbhajan Singh too asserted that he would have also batted first.
However, the chase under lights never looked as difficult as both sides may have expected it to be. Smith, who blasted his way to an unbeaten 87, and Tendulkar, who anchored with a steady unbeaten 58, finished it off in style.
Earlier in the evening, Shane Watson’s 36-ball 45 helped Rajasthan Royals reach 162-6 with the Australian allrounder hitting four boundaries and two sixes. Towards the latter part of the innings, England import Owais Shah and local boy Ashok Menaria provided a nice flourish.
Mumbai Indians replaced Munaf Patel with the young Dhaval Kulkarni who rose to the occasion, picking the important wickets of openers Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane.
Watson and Stuart Binny added 53 runs for the third wicket which helped stabilise RR’s innings. The Aussie came down heavily on MI’s Sri Lankan pacer Lasith Malinga too and the visitors did have a tough time settling down early on. It was allrounder Keiron Pollard who eventually claimed his scalp in the 14th over, slowing down the hosts.
In the final league game of the season, with the playoff places already decided, Rajasthan had brought in Dishant Yagnik for Shreevats Goswami and Brad Hogg in place of Johan Botha.
MI now clash with defending champions Chennai Super Kings in the playoff between the third and the fourth placed team. Their 2010 loss to CSK in the final of IPL-III still rankles and a victory now can only be sweet revenge. Mumbai Indians have dominated Chennai Super Kings in the two matches the teams have played each other this season.
MI defeated CSK in the tournament opener at Chepauk and also won the return leg at the Wankhede. The clash between these two IPL giants will certainly be a contest to look forward to.