Buttler ends MI’s winning streak

The streak has ended, but the season is still alive.

Jos Buttler smashed an unbeaten 94 as Rajasthan Royals defeated Mumbai Indians by seven wickets at Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. Chasing 169, RR got home with two overs to spare. RR rose to fifth place with 12 points from as many matches. MI slipped to No. 6 with 10 points from 12 engagements. We have to win our last two games in order to have a chance to qualify for the playoffs.

Buttler, who had smashed an unbeaten 95 in the previous match against Chennai Super Kings, batted like a dream. Opening the innings with D’Arcy Short, Buttler came into his own only in the fifth over by hitting Krunal Pandya for a six and a four. He smashed nine fours and five sixes in all to leave the Wankhede faithful stunned. Buttler received good support from Ajinkya Rahane, who scored 37 off 36, and Sanju Samson, who helped himself to a 14-ball 26 late in the innings. He finished the match with a six off Hardik Pandya, who finished with 2/52 in four overs. Jasprit Bumrah was the only other bowler who picked up a wicket (1/34).

Earlier, Evin Lewis top-scored with a 42-ball 60 as MI finished with 168/6, a run more than they had against the same team in the first leg encounter in Jaipur three weeks ago.

MI raced to 86/0 in 10 overs before Jofra Archer masterminded a mid-innings collapse by dismissing Suryakumar Yadav and skipper Rohit Sharma — for a first-ball duck — off consecutive deliveries. Hardik then hit a few lusty blows en route to a 21-ball 36 as MI posted a competitive total. We lost four wickets for just 37 runs between overs 11 and 15 before adding 44 in the last five. At one stage, we went 24 deliveries without a boundary.

Lewis added 87 runs with Yadav, who helped himself to a 31-ball 38 to take his tally this season to 473. That’s the most number of runs scored by an uncapped Indian player in the history of the tournament. Paul Valthaty had amassed 463 in the 2011 season. Yadav also overtook Virat Kohli to jump to No. 6 in the race for the Orange Cap this season.

Lewis and Yadav hit boundaries at will in the initial overs. While Yadav spanked leg-spinner K Gowtham for two cracking fours through the off-side in the opener, Lewis made his intentions clear in the final over of the Powerplay by hitting Dhawal Kulkarni for two boundaries.

Both batsmen also got reprieves as RR dropped quite a few catches. Yadav was lucky not to fall in the second over after a casual flick dropped just short of the man at mid-on. Lewis skied Jofra Archer only for Stuart Binny to make a mess of the chance by employing the reverse-cup technique. Lewis was on five then.

Lewis came into his own after MI made 51 in the Powerplay. He smashed Shreyas Gopal for consecutive sixes — one a flat hit over square-leg and the other down the ground.

Archer performed the star turn in the 11th over when he had Yadav caught by Jaydev Unadkat at long leg. Unadkat was the man in the spotlight once again as he reverse-cupped a chest-high catch when Sharma went for an almighty pull off the first ball he faced. Lewis went on to complete his second fifty of the season with a huge six that hit the glass facade of the press box. Thankfully, only Kulkarni’s figures suffered damage.

Lewis hit the same bowler for another six in the 14th over before offering a catch to Samson in the deep. Ishan Kishan, fresh from his wonderful knock against Kolkata Knight Riders, hit a couple of impressive shots but fell to Ben Stokes in the deep. Samson was the catcher on this occasion too.

Rahane, who brought in Gopal, Kulkarni and Short in place of Prashant Chopra, Ankit Sharma and Ish Sodhi, brought Archer for his final spell. And the all-rounder conceded just nine runs in two overs to finish with amazing figures of 4-0-16-2. Archer had picked up a match-winning 3/22 when the teams met on April 22. He bowled a whopping 14 dot balls on Sunday.

With just 17 to show in the last four overs, MI needed Hardik and Ben Cutting to provide the final flourish. Hardik did just that by smashing two fours and a six over extra-cover. Nineteen came off the 19th over as Archer also dropped a sitter offered by Cutting.

Cutting started the final over with a huge six over long-on before Hardik hit a four to move to 36. But Stokes had the last laugh as he had Hardik caught at deep midwicket. It was Samson who pulled off a blinder by covering some distance and pulling off a sensational dive to complete the catch after a tumble. Cutting took a couple off the last ball as new man JP Duminy didn’t face a delivery.

MI will host Kings XI Punjab on Wednesday, May 16.

Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 168/6 in 20 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 38, Evin Lewis 60, Hardik Pandya 36; Dhawal Kulkarni 1/43, Jofra Archer 2/16, Ben Stokes 2/26, Jaydev Unadkat 1/37) lost to Rajasthan Royals 171/3 in 18 overs (Jos Buttler 94, Ajinkya Rahane 37, Sanju Samson 26; Jasprit Bumrah 1/34, Hardik Pandya 2/52) by seven wickets.