Parthiv & Malinga shine despite defeat

Rising Pune Supergiant defeated the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede for the second time this season. Mumbai will face the winner of the match between the Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders in a second chance to reach the final in Hyderabad on Sunday, 21st May.

Steve Smith called correctly at the toss and Rohit Sharma had no hesitation in putting Rising Pune Supergiant in to bat. Lasith Malinga, Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah and Parthiv Patel made their comeback to the playing XI. For Rising Pune Supergiant, Lockie Ferguson was drafted in place of Ben Stokes, who flew back to England for national duty.

Mitchell McClenaghan opened proceedings for Mumbai Indians, bowling on the same pitch where 450-plus runs were aggregated just a few nights ago. However, this pitch wore a slightly tired look, with the shine that was characteristic on that pitch distinctly missing. McClenaghan, to his credit, opted to test the batsmen with sheer pace and a few back-of-the-length balls first up. His last ball of the first over was a beautiful ball that was pitched up and swung into the right hander to make a mess of his stumps. Tripathi was dismissed for his first duck of the season (and thus, his IPL career) as Rising Pune Supergiant was 6/1 after the first over.

Lasith Malinga was drafted in to bowl the second and made use of the sluggish nature of the pitch by undercutting the ball from the outset. The lack of pace upset both Rahane and new-man Steven Smith. This was most evident when Steven Smith tried to whip him off his pads to deep square-leg, but was far too early on the stroke and could only find the outside edge of the bat to Hardik Pandya on the off-side. RPS were reduced to 9/2 after 2 overs and Mumbai Indians had the upper hand at this stage.

Ajinkya Rahane was looking in fluent touch though. He decided to up the ante in the next over, McClenaghan’s second and played an aerial heave followed by a spanking cover drive for back-to-back boundaries. At this stage Rahane had contributed 16 of Pune’s 19 runs. Jasprit Bumrah made it the 3rd bowler in 4 overs as the seamer kept things tidy by conceding only 5 runs. Karn Sharma was brought on to try and see if he could extract any spin off the surface. His first couple of deliveries were dots as he gave the ball plenty of air before bowling the googly. Rahane broke up his momentum, however, with another one of his silky cover drives to keep the scoreboard ticking over.

Lasith Malinga rounded out the powerplay with his second over and was on the money. Saurabh Tiwary was still coming to terms with this pitch as Malinga went along with the formula that served him (and MI) well in his first over: undercutting the ball and letting the pitch do the rest. It worked, as only 2 runs were scored off the over and RPS ended the powerplay 33/2, going at a run-rate of 5.50 to the over.

Tiwary decided to open his arms and take on Karn Sharma in his next over. He charged the leggie and deposited him over the ropes for Pune’s first six to launch the run rate above six. A couple of singles off the last few balls of the over were just the ticket for these two as the partnership started to flourish. Rohit, sensing the shift in momentum turned to Krunal Pandya to bowl the eighth over of the innings. Pandya, bowling as accurately as another slow left-arm orthodox spinner from the state of Gujarat immediately found his length on this pitch. All Pune could manage was the solitary run with Manoj Tiwary at 13 off 18, barely striking at 70 runs/100 balls.

The decision to bring on Hardik Pandya to slip in an over was one that was fraught with risk. Unfortunately for Mumbai, the gamble didn’t pay off as his extra pace was just to the batsmen’s liking. Rahane tonked the first ball for a six, one of his less glamourous strokes in this innings, before Manoj Tiwary’s streaky Chinese cut found the boundary. 15 runs were scored off this over and Pune found themselves 58/2 after 9 overs.

Krunal Pandya tidied up after the carnage of the previous over and conceded just 5 runs off the tenth over. Rohit brought Malinga back on to bowl the 11th over and relishing the extra pace, Rahane slashed him for a four, with Malinga erring only marginally in his line. The next four balls saw determined running between the wickets as both Rahane and Tiwary shifted pressure back on to the fielding sides. The run-rate and partnership was creeping up as both batsmen were finding their groove.

Krunal’s third over was more expensive as a couple of boundaries were managed off it. Rahane brought up his fifty with a flick to long-on as the score moved on to 83/2, with the run-rate nudging 7 runs an over.

Rahane and Tiwary were playing fluently on this track and a wicket was the need of the hour. Fortunately, Karn Sharma provided just that as Rahane failed to adequately read a perfectly pitched googly and was struck in front. Rahane departed for a well-made 56 and MS Dhoni walked in. Dhoni carefully played out the last two balls from Karn to round out the 13th over. Jasprit Bumrah managed to out-fox Dhoni in the past, which is why Rohit opted to bring him back on next over. Both Tiwary and Dhoni were content to maneuver the strike with all 6 balls being scored off.

With 6 overs to go, Rohit opted to bowl Karn Sharma out. Despite Dhoni smacking a massive six off the 3rd ball, Karn reigned things in and ended with the respectable figures of 1/30 off his quota of 4 overs. Rohit also decided to bowl Krunal out before the slog overs as both batsmen bid their time by rotating the strike. Krunal ended his spell with well, conceding 5 runs and finishing with 0/22 off his 4 overs.

With four overs to go and the run-rate comfortably under 7, it was advantage Mumbai Indians. Mitchell McClenaghan depressed the run-rate further with a brilliant 17th over, despite a wide off the first ball. With three overs to go, Pune were 114/3 with Dhoni striking at under 100 and Manoj Tiwary striking at an even-100. Manoj Tiwary flicked Bumrah’s first ball, a length-ball angling into the pads, for a boundary, but again Pune couldn’t get away with the rest of the over: Again just 7 runs were managed off it and with 2 overs to go, Pune would be in danger of failing to post 140.

They needn’t have worried, though as the 19th over turned the match completely on its head. Up to this point McClenaghan had been exemplary with his lines and more importantly his lengths as he had conceded 20 runs off his first 3 overs. His first legitimate ball cost 11 runs: An above-waist full-toss was swatted away by Tiwary for four to bring up his fifty, before the free-hit was hit back above McClenaghan’s head for a maximum. Then Dhoni, striking at under 100, came to the show.

McClenaghan’s fourth ball was in the slot and hammered away for six over deep mid-wicket, before his last was launched high into the sky, which had just enough distance on it to clear the ropes. McClenaghan’s over cost Mumbai 26 runs and now 160 looked possible.

Bumrah rounded out the last over. Unfortunately, Bumrah missed his length and Dhoni capitalized with a couple of brutal sixes off the second and fourth over. Bumrah landed the final two balls of the innings on the money which Dhoni could do nothing about, but the damage was done. 41 runs were looted off the last two overs as Pune put on 162/4 off their allotted twenty overs. Certainly, the momentum was with Pune going into the innings break.

Whilst 160 would have been a doddle on the same pitch a few days ago, with the bowling attack Pune possessed, along with the tired nature of the pitch made 163 a challenging total. The impressive Jaydev Unadkat opened the bowling for Pune, with Parthiv and Lendl Simmons our openers. Unadkat, like McClenaghan, started on the front foot cleverly mixing up cutters with seam-up deliveries: Mumbai could manage only one run off it. Washington Sundar was drafted on to bowl the second over and piled on the pressure: just one run was scored off his first four balls. Something had to give and fortunately for Mumbai, it was Sundar as Parthiv pounced on a slightly-shorter ball and launched him for six. Parthiv repeated the dose off Unadkat’s second over swatting away a bouncer for a maximum off the first ball. The batsmen sensibly opted to maneuver the strike as Mumbai started better than Pune by not losing any wickets in the first three overs.

Steven Smith brought on Stokes’ replacement for tonight, Lockie Ferguson on to bowl the fourth over. Parthiv Patel launched another shortish ball into the ecstatic Wankhede crowd to register his and Mumbai’s third maximum off the innings. With the score a satisfactory 29/0 off the fourth over, Steven Smith brought on Shardul Thakur. Parthiv Patel took him on immediately, launching a length ball over mid-off’s head for four. Unfortunately for Mumbai, Parthiv also had a role to play in Lendl Simmons’ dismissal off the fourth ball: A straight drive found Thakur’s fingertip in his follow-through, before crashing into the stumps at the non-striker’s end to find Simmons heartbreakingly short of his crease. Parthiv rounded out the first over by flicking an angled-in ball past short-fine leg for a boundary: At the end of the fifth over, Parthiv had managed 33 of Mumbai’s 41 runs.

Washington Sundar was brought on to round out the last over of the powerplay. It was a gamble, that unfortunately for Mumbai, worked for Pune. The first ball itself was a ball that was perfectly pitched, with Rohit being adjudged leg-before-wicket, despite getting a bottom-edge. Ambati Rayudu, hero from the match against Kolkata Knight Riders, walked into bat at number 4. Rayudu played out his first two balls, before trying to force the pace off the back-foot, with a pull that was smartly caught by the Pune skipper at short mid-wicket. Suddenly, Mumbai were 42/3 after the powerplay ended, with Kieron Pollard joining the fluent Parthiv at the crease.

Lockie Ferguson’s second over, the first after the powerplay ended, complemented Sundar’s over, despite the last ball going for a boundary as the chase started to lose momentum. Things took a turn for the worse for Mumbai as Sundar’s second over brought yet another wicket, with Pollard departing in similar circumstances to Rayudu: picking out Steven Smith at a shortish mid-wicket: Mumbai suddenly were 51/4 with the required run rate firmly above 9 runs an over.

Hardik Pandya joined the diminutive Parthiv to try and resurrect the innings. An 11-run Thakur over brought the asking rate down a tad, but on this surface a mishit was always likely to arrive. Lockie Ferguson was the beneficiary as Hardik was looking to take advantage of the extra pace, but could only find Daniel Christian in the deep. With half the side dismissed for 75, the match was slipping quickly away from Mumbai Indians. Parthiv Patel simply did not receive the support he needed as the wickets fell around him.

Krunal Pandya perished after playing an enterprising, but short innings of 15 off 11 balls, before the killer blow. Thakur got an off-cutter to grip once again as Parthiv tried to launch it into the stands, but could only find Daniel Christian who took a good catch coming in from the boundary. Nevertheless, he made 52 off 40 balls and seemed the only batsman able to come to terms with the nature of this pitch. Despite a few lusty blows from the lower order, the task was out of their reach and Mumbai fell short by 20 runs.

The onslaught by MS Dhoni and Manoj Tiwary at the back-end of the Pune innings proved to be the difference, but the good news is that we aren’t out of the tournament. That’s the advantage of qualifying in the top two! We will play the victor of the eliminator between Sunrisers Hyderabad and Kolkata Knight Riders, on Friday, the 19th of May at the M. Chinnaswamy in Bengaluru!