MI stay alive with win over KXIP

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Mumbai Indians defeated Kings XI Punjab by six wickets at Holkar Stadium in Indore on Friday. The win was our third of the season and pushed us three places up to fifth on the points table.

When Krunal Pandya joined Rohit Sharma in the middle in pursuit of 175, Mumbai Indians needed 55 off 27 with six wickets in hand. Believe it or not, we won with an over to spare. And how! Krunal and Sharma collected 17 runs from the 17th over bowled by Mujeeb Ur Rehman, 20 from the 18th bowled by Marcus Stoinis and 17 from the 19th bowled by Andrew Tye as we improved our head-to-head record against KXIP to 11-10. The unbeaten 56-run stand consumed just 21 balls and was studded with five fours and four sixes. The winning runs came when the ball ricocheted off Krunal’s shoe to race away to the third-man boundary. Krunal finished with 31 runs off just 12 balls and Sharma, who batted at No. 5, made 24 off 15. For the record, MI always win whenever Sharma remains not out in a chase. Make that 17 out of 17!

Suryakumar Yadav laid the foundation for the chase by scoring his third fifty of the season. During the course of his 42-ball 57, Yadav hit six fours and three sixes to become the first uncapped player to cross the 300-run barrier in the 2018 Vivo IPL. He now has 340 runs in the season. So prolific was Yadav that he hit each of our eight boundaries in the first 10 overs. He added 38 runs with Evin Lewis, who came into the side in place of Kieron Pollard.

Lewis made 10 before being caught behind off Rehman. Yadav found an able ally in Ishan Kishan, and the duo added 42 runs for the second wicket. Kishan was slow to begin with but made up for it with three sixes. But Rehman returned to have him bowled with a flat delivery in the 13th over. Kishan made 25 off 19 to leave MI on 100/3.

Hardik Pandya also played a beautiful little cameo — 23 off 13 — but when Andrew Tye had him bowled in the 16th, things weren’t looking good. But Krunal and Sharma had other ideas.

Earlier, a late flourish from Marcus Stoinis helped KXIP finish on 174/6 after Sharma won the toss and put the home side in. MI replaced Kieron Pollard with Evin Lewis while KXIP brought in Yuvraj Singh, Marcus Stoinis and Axar Patel.

Stoinis smashed his way to an unbeaten 29 off 15, including two sixes and as many fours in the last over bowled by Hardik.

Openers KL Rahul and Chris Gayle got KXIP off to a decent start. Their 54-run partnership came off 6.4 overs. Rahul made 24 with the help of two delightful sixes on the off-side before he became Mayank Markande’s 11th scalp of the tournament. The young leg-spinner bowled a googly which Rahul picked only to drag it down the throat of JP Duminy at deep midwicket.

Gayle was in some mood. And he helped himself to his 24th half-century in the Vivo IPL. Gayle ate up many a ball in the Powerplay, but made up for it with some lusty blows to reach the 50-run mark off 38 balls. Two balls later, he became Ben Cutting’s first wicket of the season. Cutting bowled an off-cutter and Gayle could only splice it to deep midwicket where Suryakumar Yadav took a well-judged catch.

Yuvraj Singh made a painstaking run-a-ball 14, though he swept Krunal for a maximum as soon as the left-arm spinner came in to bowl. Two balls later, Singh fell victim to a brilliant flat throw from Lewis who was stationed at point. It was Karun Nair who tapped Krunal and took off for a non-existent single, thereby exposing Singh to Lewis’s arm.

With five overs to go and the scoreboard reading 123/3, KXIP needed someone to stay till the end. Nair made 23 off 12 balls and looked good for more, but he ended up skying Mitchell McClenaghan to wide long-off where Hardik covered some distance to complete a fine catch. KXIP then lost Axar Patel for 12-ball 13 when the left-hander chipped Jasprit Bumrah to Hardik at long-off. Mayank Agarwal, who joined Stoinis in the middle, deposited a slower ball from Cutting past the long-off fence but he fell in the last over for 11 off seven. But Stoinis’s cameo was enough for KXIP to go past 170.

Five bowlers picked up a wicket each for MI, but Bumrah was, by far, the best on the night. He bowled the second, sixth, 17th and 19th overs to finish with awesome figures of 4-0-19-1. He was particularly impressive in the Powerplay, and managed to keep Gayle quiet for a while. At one stage, he bowled four consecutive dot balls to the big West Indian. In all, we bowled 16 dot balls in the first six overs.

Brief Scores: KIngs XI Punjab 174/6 in 20 overs (KL Rahul 24, Chris Gayle 50, Karun Nair 23, Marcus Stoinis 29*; Mitchell McClenaghan 1/31, Jasprit Bumrah 1/19, Hardik Pandya 1/44, Mayank Markande 1/29, Ben Cutting 1/28) lost to Mumbai Indians 174/4 in 19 overs (Suryakumar Yadav 57, Ishan Kishan 25, Hardik Pandya 23, Rohit Sharma 24*, Krunal Pandya 31*; Andrew Tye 1/35, Mujeeb Ur Rehman 2/37, Marcus Stoinis 1/37) by six wickets