MI back to winning ways

The campaign is back on track!

Skipper Rohit Sharma batted as responsibly as a bank manager as defending champions Mumbai Indians defeated Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in Gahunje, near Pune, on Saturday evening. The victory, achieved with two deliveries to spare, enabled the defending champions to bury the ghosts of the last few weeks. With four points from seven matches, we are now sixth on the table with a net run-rate of 0.033. CSK continue to occupy the top spot with 10 points from seven outings.

Chasing 170 in an effort to avoid a third straight defeat, we were served well by openers Suryakumar Yadav and Evin Lewis who added 69 runs in less than 10 overs. Sharma, who promoted himself to No. 3, then batted till the end to take us home. Sharma hit an unbeaten 56 off 33, inclusive of six fours and two sixes, and his knock was a perfect mix of caution and aggression. Hardik Pandya, who hit the winning runs, made 13 off eight.

With 37 required off 18, Sharma carted Shane Watson for a four before Pandya hit an imperious six to calm many a heart in the dugout. Sharma then hit Shardul Thakur for four fours in the penultimate over to virtually seal the deal. In the process, he also completed his 51st half-century in T20s and second of the season. The highlight of Sharma’s knock was a one-handed six he hit off Watson in the 14th over. Three balls later, he used the pace of the bowler and scooped the ball over fine-leg for another maximum. It had finesse written all over it.

Yadav and Lewis also batted smartly. While Yadav enthralled the crowd with some good-looking shots, including a cheeky lift to third man for four, Lewis took his time to settle in before flexing his muscle. MI went into the game without Kieron Pollard and Mustafizur Rahman. JP Duminy and Ben Cutting were the replacements.

Earlier, Suresh Raina smashed an unbeaten 75 as Chennai Super Kings finished with 169/5. Raina, who walked in at the fall of Shane Watson in the fifth over, lent the innings stability by batting through. The southpaw, who missed a couple of matches due to a calf injury, hit six fours and four sixes to zoom past Virat Kohli on the all-time list of top run-getters in the history of the Vivo IPL.

Raina was involved in two important partnerships — 71 with Ambati Rayudu and 46 with MS Dhoni — but our bowlers did well to restrict CSK after they raced to 91/1 in 10 overs. Krunal Pandya, who got us the breakthrough by inducing a top-edge off Watson, returned to remove Rayudu for 46 in the 12th over. CSK went a whopping 26 deliveries without scoring a boundary as Mitchell McClenaghan, Krunal and Bumrah applied the brakes on the run-rate with some tight bowling.

Dhoni then broke the shackles with a couple of fours off Hardik Pandya. He then went after leg-spinner Mayank Markande, hittin the young leg-spinner for a six and a four in the next over. Remember Markande had Dhoni stumped when the teams met in the season-opener at the Wankhede. But on Saturday, Dhoni got his revenge as Markande went for 0/30 off his three overs.

Bumrah, who bowled a miserly first spell — 2-0-3-0 — went for runs in his second with Raina hitting him for two fours on the leg-side. Those runs took him past the 50-run mark. With the scoreboard reading 143/2 after 16 overs, CSK looked set for a flourish. But McClenaghan rocked their boat by removing Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo — our tormentor in the first leg — in the space of three deliveries. If Dhoni made a mess of a full-toss bowled way outside off and ended up hitting it straight to Evin Lewis at deep cover. Bravo fell for a first-ball duck when he sliced the ball to Markande between cover and point.

Raina hit a couple more sixes, including one of the last ball, as CSk collected 52 in the last five overs. McClenaghan, who was the pick of our bowlers, finished with 2/26. Krunal took 2/32 and his brother, Hardik, finished with 1/39. Bumrah ended up with 0/25 off his four overs.

Rayudu gave CSK a brilliant start by hitting McClenaghan for a straight six in the first ball. He and Raina continued the good work as CSK reached 51/1 in the Powerplay.

MI travel to Bangalore where they will meet Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday, May 1.

Brief Scores: Chennai Super Kings 169/5 in 20 overs (Ambati Rayudu 46, Suresh Raina 75*, MS Dhoni 26; Mitchell McClenaghan 2/26, Hardik Pandya 1/39, Krunal Pandya 2/32) lost to Mumbai Indians 170/2 in 19.4 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 44, Evin Lewis 47, Rohit Sharma 56*; Harbhajan Singh 1/20, Dwayne Bravo 1/21) by eight wickets.