Hitman shines, despite MI falling short

Despite a valiant half-century from the Mumbai Indians’ skipper, Sunrisers Hyderabad prevailed at their home fortress at Uppal. Rohit called correctly at the toss and decided to opt to bat first. With Krunal Pandya not travelling with the team, there was no need to upset the apple cart and Mumbai went into this match unchanged. Sunrisers, on their part, drafted in the young Mohammad Siraj in the place of the injured Ashish Nehra, amidst a couple other changes.

Purple Cap holder Bhuvneshwar Kumar opened proceedings bowling to southpaw Simmons. A tidy first over was virtually a given as Bhuvneshwar found his range immediately, looking to exploit swing with the new ball. Warner opted for Mohammad Nabi to bowl the second over, who immediately ratcheted up the pressure by conceding just a single off his first 3 balls. Simmons decided the fourth ball would need to go as he tried to mow a good length ball that went straight through and disturbed his stumps. Mumbai were 4/1 and off to a slow start.

With a recent wicket falling, Warner opted to bowl Siraj immediately. Parthiv and Rana, sensing the opportunity, decided to take full toll by looting 3 boundaries in the third over. That kickstarted our innings and we were 20/1 after the third over. Nabi provided control from the other end, however, with his accurate off-breaks and conceded just 2 runs off the subsequent over. The Afghan all-rounder had the enviable figures of 1/3 off his 2 overs.

The pressure thus exerted brought immediate dividends, as Nitish Rana played an injudicious shot off the first ball of the new bowler, Siddarth Kaul. Bhuvneshwar Kumar completed the catch and Mumbai found themselves 22/2 in the fifth over. That brought in the skipper, Rohit Sharma, to the crease. However, Parthiv Patel was on strike and Kaul could have had a second off the next ball, had Vijay Shankar latched onto a fairly straightforward chance at point, but dropped it. Mumbai rounded out the fifth over at 29/2. Another Mohammad Nabi over was on the cards and it was more of the same: tight and restrictive bowling that yielded 7 runs as Mumbai ended the powerplay at 36/2.

That again caused pressure to be built up as batsmen sought to break free at the other end. Kaul was again the beneificiary striking off the first ball of his second over as Parthiv Patel chipped him to Warner at long-on, where the opposition skipper took a fine tumbling catch to dismiss the most fluent batsman on show at that point. Hardik Pandya walked in at number 5, ostensibly to give him more batting experience in matches. Kaul almost had another wicket in the same over as a well-directed bumper caught Rohit off-guard, fortunately the umpire decided in Rohit’s favour.

Nevertheless, on a trickier Hyderabad surface than what has been seen thus far, Mumbai were 42/3 after 7 overs, definitely not an ideal start. Rashid Khan’s entry into the innings was delayed as Nabi bowled out his fourth successive over on the trot, returning the brilliant figures 1/13. His suffocating accuracy was responsible for the wickets of Parthiv and Rana. Rashid was brought onto bowl the 8th over and Rohit played a delicate glide past short third man for four to showcase his touch. Hardik Pandya was struggling at the other end, unable to match his captain’s scoring rate as well as rotate the strike. Mumbai were well-behind the 8-ball as the score limped to 59/3 after the 10th over.

Despite a towering six by Rohit off Rashid’s second over, Mumbai were struggling to budge beyond 6 runs an over. The introduction of Moises Henriques in the 14th over signaled a shift in momentum as three fours were struck off the Australian all-rounder. At the end of the over, Rohit was looking set for his 3rd IPL 2017 fifty, on 44 off 28 balls, with Hardik Pandya struggling at 15 off 23 balls. Crucially, Hardik was yet to hit a boundary at this stage. Hardik decided to take on Rashid Khan in the next over, but a heave across the line off the wily spinner was always going to be fraught with risk. So it turned out, as he skied it to Moises Henriques, who took a fine catch. Kieron Pollard walked in at number 6, with Mumbai desperate for some urgency.

The 16th over was bowled by Mohammed Siraj and again it was Rohit who looked the most at ease at the crease, bringing up his third fifty of IPL 2017 with a push that was so straight that it hit the stumps at the bowlers end and ricocheted for a single. The final ball off the over was a short ball outside off that Rohit, ever the artist with bat in hand, uppercut this for a boundary.

Still, Mumbai were going at under 7 runs an over. Rashid Khan didn’t help matters for Mumbai, conceding just 2 runs off a superlative 17th over (his last) and ended up with figures of 1/22 off 4 overs. The Afghan duo, combined, had figures of 2/35 off 8 overs. Despite this, Rohit took on Bhuvneshwar Kumar and smashed a pull for six. With two overs to go, 150 was still on the cards, with Pollard and Rohit still around.

Siddarth Kaul put paid to that notion, however, with his third wicket of the night: Rohit was unfortunate to bottom edge a lifter onto his boot that deflected onto his stumps. The next few balls, though, were  wonderful examples of quality death bowling as Karn Sharma and Pollard failed to distract the bowler from executing his plans. Bhuvneshwar bowled the final over and again, put paid to hope of Mumbai posting anything in excess of 150, firstly by dismissing Pollard off the first ball of the final over and then Karn Sharma off the penultimate ball. Put simply, we were restricted to 138/7.

The Orange Cap holder, David Warner, was the wicket Mumbai dearly needed immediately, to have any hope of winning this game. McClenaghan provided to be just the ticket as he continued the tradition of wickets off the first ball of the over in this match. The ball, a full inswinger caught Warner on the crease, dead in front. Hyderabad were 7/1. Moises Henriques and Shikhar Dhawan stitched together a valuable 91-run stand to completely swing the match in Hyderabad’s favour. By the time the duo was separated, courtesy Rohit taking his 9th catch of the season, Sunrisers needed 41 off 47 balls. Yuvraj Singh walked in to bat, with doubts arising over his ability to bat in the innings, given the injury he sustained to his little-finger on his non-dominant hand. Nevertheless, he looked uncomfortable and winced in agony a few times. Given that he is a part of India’s Champions Trophy title defence, one hopes that the injury is not too serious.

At the other end, Shikhar Dhawan was proceeding serenely to his 3rd fifty of IPL 2017, getting to the landmark in the 15th over off 36 balls. Malinga accounted for Yuvraj the next ball, with the southpaw lifting a cutter to Hardik Pandya running in from sweeper-cover. Vijay Shankar and Shikhar Dhawan took the Sunrisers home, playing low-risk cricket by knocking the ball around the park. It meant that Delhi Daredevils are unfortunately knocked out, with the Mumbai Indians still remaining the only side to have definitively qualified for the playoffs.

Whilst no loss is welcomed, we can shake this defeat off and focus on the next assignment, to familiar surroundings, facing Kings XI Punjab at home, at our fortress. Our skipper summed the night up best, indicating that “Not enough runs on the board was where we lost this match”. Whilst the experiment to bat first didn’t come give a favourable result, we can seal a top-two spot to give us a double chance at reaching the Final.

 

 


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