MI stay alive with three-run win

The title-defence is on!

Kieron Pollard and Jasprit Bumrah came up with spectacular performances as defending champions Mumbai Indians kept their VIVO IPL campaign alive with a nerve-racking three-run victory over Kings XI Punjab at Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday evening. Victory took us to No. 4 on the table. With 12 points from 13 games, we now travel to the Capital for our final league engagement against Delhi Daredevils. A win on Sunday afternoon will all but assure us of a spot in the playoffs.

Asked to bat first, we posted 186/8 thanks to a brilliant half-century from Pollard. In response, KL Rahul played a knock for the ages, but his 60-ball 94 wasn’t enough to take KXIP home. Instead, it was Bumrah who turned the tables with figures of 4-0-15-3 as MI won by a wafer-thin margin.

It literally came down to the last two overs. With 23 to defend, Bumrah bowled a dream over by conceding just six runs besides. Mitchell McClenaghan, who bowled the last over with 17 to play, give away a six and a four but removed Yuvraj Singh as we got home. Rahul and Aaron Finch kept KXIP in the game with a 111-run stand for the second wicket but Bumrah & Co. did phenomenally well to pull things back. Bumrah bowled a brilliant 17th over too, removing Rahul and Marcus Stoinis to give MI the upper hand.

Earlier, Pollard staged a sensational comeback by smashing a 23-ball 50 to propel us to 186/8. Pollard, who warmed the bench for three games, walked in with the scoreboard reading 71/4 in the ninth over, added a match-defining 65 runs off exactly six overs in the company of Krunal Pandya, who helped himself to a 23-ball 32.

Pollard came in after Andrew Tye’s three-wicket burst pegged MI back by some distance. Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Lewis had hit quickfire 20s to bring up the 50 in just 4.4 overs. But the duo fell off consecutive balls to forgo some of the momentum we had garnered.

Pollard broke the shackles with a purposeful punch through the off-side. That four was MI’s first in 31 balls. MI were 79/4 after 10 overs. That’s when two of the four light towers blanked out. The Wankhede faithful made the most of the 10-minute break by turning on their smartphone torches. It made for a wonderful sight.

Upon resumption, Pollard and Krunal played out the 11th over without much fuss. Krunal came into his own in the 12th by smashing Marcus Stoinis for two sixes and a four. Nineteen runs came off the over as MI crossed the 100-run mark.

Pollard hit his first six of the night by depositing an Axar Patel delivery on the top tier over mid-wicket. The 14th over, bowled by Ankit Rajpoot, yielded 18 as Pollard muscled one over the long-on fence and followed it up with two fours. Stoinis removed Krunal after the left-hander mistimed a pull straight to the man at short fine-leg. New man Hardik Pandya took a single to bring Pollard back on strike. Pollard made the most of Stoinis’s offerings by going 4, 4 and 6 to complete a fabulous half-century off just 22. Ecstatic, the big man fist-pumped his mates sitting in the dugout before Hardik rushed to him and shared a hug. Pollard fell in the next over when he hit R Ashwin straight to Aaron Finch at the long-off boundary.

Hardik, who made nine, became Tye’s fourth victim of the night — and 24th of the season — as our attempts to cross 200 hit a roadblock. Ben Cutting fell soon after for four. But Mitchell McClenaghan and Mayank Markande stayed there till the end, scoring 11 and seven, respectively, as we collected 19 off the last two overs.

Opener Yadav became the first uncapped Indian to cross the 500-run barrier in a season. He belted Rajpoot for 20 runs in the third over, hitting two sixes and as many fours as MI raced away to 37/0. Soon, Tye came into the act removed Lewis with a knuckle ball that went right through the batsman and crashed into off-stump. New man Kishan hit Mohit Sharma for two sixes and a four in the fifth before Tye came back and got the southpaw to hit one to mid-on. The very next ball, he put his knuckles to good use as Yadav bottom-edged it to the wicketkeeper.

MI made 60/3 in the Powerplay. The next four overs yielded just 19. Overs 11 to 15 yielded 72 thanks to Pollard and Krunal. Only 35 came off the last five overs.

Interestingly, KXIP players are in possession of both caps. Rahul (652 runs) has the Orange Cap, while Tye (24 wickets) has the Purple Cap.

Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 186/8 in 20 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 27, Ishan Kishan 20, Krunal Pandya 32, Kieron Pollard 50; Ankit Rajpoot 1/46, Andrew Tye 4/16, R Ashwin 2/18, Marcus Stoinis 1/43) beat Kings XI Punjab 183/5 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 94, Aaron Finch 46; Mitchell McClenaghan 2/37, Jasprit Bumrah 3/15) by three wins.