So close, yet so far: A spirited Mumbai batting effort ends in 7-run defeat to Kings XI

The Mumbai Indians batsmen were left with too much to do after an erratic bowling effort from the entire bowling unit resulted in Kings XI Punjab posting the highest score of IPL 2017 and the third-highest total (230/3) in the history of the Indian Premier League. Mumbai batsmen, led by Lendl Simmons, put up a great collective show and were on course to pull off a record chase. But some exceptional death bowling from Sandeep Sharma and Mohit Sharma in the final two overs, from which only 24 runs were required for a victory for the hosts, helped Kings XI beat Mumbai by seven runs (223/6) and remain in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs.

Having been put into bat, the visitors began their innings in buccaneering fashion, with Martin Guptill and his new opening partner Wriddhiman Saha putting every Mumbai bowler to the sword. With a barrage of boundaries from both their openers, Kings XI had gotten off to the perfect start, reaching 71 for the loss of Guptill in the powerplay.

The wicket of Guptill, who was dismissed by Karn Sharma for an 18-ball 36, brought Maxwell to the middle and what we witnessed for the next five-and-a-half overs was Twenty20 batting of the highest order, from the Kings XI captain. He was very decisive in what he wanted to do and having made up his mind, he executed his plan to the letter. He stood tall and muscled the Mumbai spinners, Karn and Harbhajan Singh, over the long-on and long-off boundaries with real authority. Doosra, googly, top-spinner, and the stock deliveries made no difference to Maxwell’s approach or how he dealt with them. Maxwell hit five big sixes in his innings of 47, which gave Kings XI the added impetus to at the very least make 200.

Mind you, Kings XI were motoring along and were, nonchalantly, scoring at about 12-13 runs per over. And, when Maxwell was dismissed by Jasprit Bumrah on the last ball of the 11th over, the visitors had raced to 131. The Wankhede pitch was a batting beauty on this night, but unfortunately for Mumbai, the batsmen-friendly pitch was taken full advantage of by the visiting batsmen and the hosts were badly let down by their bowlers.

Saha was the anchor for Punjab, whose more natural stroke-makers, like Shaun Marsh and Axar Patel, played their natural game and were aggressive. Boundaries came off almost every over and barring Bumrah, none of Mumbai’s bowlers managed to curb the scoring rate.

The second half of the Kings XI innings produced only 104 runs, which was significantly lesser considering the kind of start they had gotten off to and the platform they had in front of them going into the final 10 overs. Saha, though, benefitted from being promoted to the top of the order. The opening slot suited him and the tempo of his innings was almost perfect.

Kings XI had substantial partnerships throughout their innings and the fourth-wicket partnership between Saha and Axar drove them to 230/3, with these two batsmen hitting a six each in the final over.

Though Mumbai had the batting firepower to potentially overhaul this massive score, Kings XI had too many runs to play with and were way ahead of Mumbai in the contest. They had brought in an extra pacer, Ishant Sharma for Swapnil Singh, and will have looked for a wicket upfront, ideally that of Simmons.

Kings XI didn’t get this wish of theirs and Sandeep Sharma and co. began in very much the same vain as their Mumbai counterparts. They sprayed the ball around and most of the time did not bowl to the field they had or were given by their skipper. In the powerplay, with the third man and fine leg inside the circle, the bowlers had to bowl full and straight. Instead, they hit the good length and were picked off behind square on either side of the pitch.

Simmons and Parthiv delivered just the kind of start Mumbai needed, in pursuit of 231. Simmons was the more significant contributor in this partnership, though Parthiv played some sumptuous strokes (particularly in the second over, which was bowled by Matt Henry, who he hit drove through the covers for three consecutive fours) through the inner ring of fielders on the off-side and found the boundary relatively regularly. Parthiv, however, wasn’t his fluent self with the bat. The wicketkeeper-batsman, in trying to muscle the ball to the cow corner, skied the ball for a simple catch to mid-off. Parthiv made 38 off 23 balls and with Simmons, had delivered a good start for his team.

Following his departure, Mumbai innings stuttered. Kings XI bowlers struck in back-to-back overs to bring themselves back into the contest. Between Parthiv’s dismissal in the ninth over (8.4) and the 13th of the innings, Mumbai scored just 24 runs (99/1 to 123/4) and importantly, lost three crucial wickets, of Simmons (59), Rohit Sharma and Nitish Rana. Rohit (5) and Rana (12) consumed 19 deliveries between them and scored just 17 runs.

Maxwell introduced himself into the attack once the powerplay was over and his off-spinners were exemplary. The trajectory of his deliveries was flat but he also varied the pace intelligently to keep the batsmen honest. Maxwell took arguably the most crucial wicket, of Simmons. This was an ordinary delivery, a low full toss that dipped slightly on the batsman. Simmons did not get underneath the ball and managed to connect only with the toe of his blade. The West Indian might have thought that he had struck the ball well enough for it to carry over long-on. But the man stationed at long-on was Guptill, who rose at the precise moment and caught the ball one-handed. It was a scintillating catch which completely changed the course of the match. Simmons, though, had played his part with a 32-ball 59.

Rahul Tewatia, one of the two frontline spinners, was not brought on until the 12th over. But the former Rajasthan Royals’ leg-spinner struck instantly, removing Rohit with a short delivery that the Mumbai captained miscued to long-on. Guptill, once again, was the man who took the catch, though this was a lot more straightforward.

Mumbai had been reduced to 123/4 at the end of 13 overs and needed more than 15 runs per over for an unlikely victory. But guess what, they came really, really close to achieving the total and should have gotten over the line.

Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard got their team going with monsterous hits off Tewatia in the 14th over. And, from nowhere, Mumbai started to make a confident march towards the target. 14 runs in the 14th over was followed by 11 in the 15th, leaving Mumbai with 83 runs to get off the last five overs. Not impossible, mind you, at the Wankhede Stadium.

Matt Henry bowled the 16th over and Mumbai cashed in on the naivety and inability of the New Zealand pacer to hit the blockhole. Pollard struck a couple of sixes off the first two legitimate deliveries before getting a single and passing on the strike to Pandya. 14 runs had been scored off three balls and Henry was under serious pressure. Pandya eclipsed his senior batting partner with two crisp hits over the boundary, one over sweeper cover and one over wide long-on off a full toss. 27 runs came off the 16th over and the equation came down to 56 runs off four overs. More than manageable, with two batsmen in this form and well capable of consistently clearing the boundary, no?

The 51st match took a turn again, with Hardik (30 runs off 13 balls) being dismissed by Sandeep on the first ball of the 17th over. Kings XI instantly became favourites because from here on Pollard had to single-handedly take his team over the line… or so we thought. Despite Hardik’s dismissal, 14 runs were scored off the 17th over and those were all what Mumbai had to per over.

Karn Sharma walked in at the fall of Hardik’s wicket and played the ideal innings for the situation. He connected well with almost every ball he faced. He was a touch fortunate to add as many runs as he did, 19 runs off six balls, because the Railways leg-spinner was dropped by Maxwell on the long-off boundary on the second ball he faced. Maxwell let the ball go through his palms and it landed over the boundary. Karn went on to add eight more vital runs and had he been wiser and not went for the big heave across the line in the very next Mohit delivery, the end result might well have been different.

With Karn getting the runs and at the other end, Pollard didn’t have to score for two batsmen. That being said, Pollard was his usual self, clearing the boundary with utter ease and doing so on a consistent basis too. Karn fell on the last ball of the 18th over and his wicket brought Harbhajan to the middle. The Turbanator did not deliver with the bat as he has at times over the course of his career, taking his teams across the line with big hits when they were needed. Once Karn fell, Pollard had to do it all on his own, particularly with Harbhajan struggling at the other end to rotate strike and to find the boundary.

Just 24 runs were required off the last two overs, but Mumbai fell short by eight runs in the end, with Pollard making an unbeaten half-century. Mohit Sharma, who had been really expensive on the night, bowled an astonishing last over, conceding just eight runs and no boundaries, to lead his team to a vital victory. One which keeps them in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs. One of the highlights, as we approached the end of match, was Pollard not completing a run having hit the ball to long-on. In fact, he was a couple of yards short of the crease at the non-striker’s end, and a run was a docked.

Saha, for his 55-ball 93 (11×4 and 3×6), was awarded the man-of-match.

Mumbai Indians vs Kings XI Punjab, 51st match scorecard

Playing XIs

Mumbai: 1. Rohit Sharma (c), 2. Parthiv Patel (wk), 3. Lendl Simmons, 4. Nitish Rana, 5. Kieron Pollard, 6. Hardik Pandya, 7. Karn Sharma, 8. Harbhajan Singh, 9. Lasith Malinga, 10. Mitchell McClenaghan, and 11. Jasprit Bumrah

Punjab: 1. Glenn Maxwell (c), 2. Martin Guptill, 3. Manan Vohra, 4. Shaun Marsh, 5. Wriddhiman Saha (wk), 6. Axar Patel, 7. Rahul Tewatia, 8. Ishant Sharma, 9. Mohit Sharma, 10. Sandeep Sharma, and 11. Matt Henry

Scores

Kings XI: 230/3 (Saha 93* and Maxwell 47; Bumrah 1/24)
Indians: 223/6 (Simmons 59 and Pollard 50*; Mohit 2/57 and Tewatia 1/17)

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) innings (toss: Mumbai, who chose to bowl first)
Batsman Dismissal Runs scored No. of 4s No. of 6s Strike rate
Martin Guptill caught Pandya, bowled Karn 36 (18) 5 1 200.00
Wriddhiman Saha not out 93 (55) 11 3 169.09
Glenn Maxwell bowled Bumrah 47 (21) 2 5 223.80
Shaun Marsh caught Patel, bowled McClenaghan 25 (16) 0 2 156.25
Axar Patel not out 19 (13) 0 1 146.15
Batsmen who didn’t bat: Manan Vohra, Rahul Tewatia, Sandeep Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Ishant Sharma, and Matt Henry
Extras: 10 (3 no-balls, 6 wides and 1 leg bye)
KXIP’s total: 230/3 in 20 overs, at 11.50 runs per over
KXIP’s fall of wickets: 68/1 (Guptill, 5.3), 131/2 (Maxwell, 10.6) and 183/3 (Marsh, 15.2)
Mumbai Indians (MI) bowling
Bowlers Overs Dots bowled Runs conceded Wickets taken Economy rate
Hardik Pandya 2 3 29 0 14.50
Mitchell McClenaghan 4 4 54 1 13.50
Jasprit Bumrah 4 10 24 1 6.00
Lasith Malinga 4 5 45 0 11.25
Karn Sharma 3 4 32 1 10.67
Harbhajan Singh 3 1 45 0 15.00
Mumbai innings (target: 231 runs in 20 overs, at 11.55 runs per over)
Batsman Dismissal Runs scored No. of 4s No. of 6s Strike rate
Lendl Simmons caught Guptill, bowled Maxwell 59 (32) 5 4 184.37
Parthiv Patel caught Vohra, bowled Mohit 38 (23) 7 0 165.21
Nitish Rana caught Guptill, bowled Axar 12 (12) 2 0 100.00
Rohit Sharma caught Guptill, bowled Tewatia 5 (7) 0 0 71.42
Kieron Pollard not out 50 (24) 1 5 208.33
Hardik Pandya caught Saha, bowled Sandeep 30 (13) 0 4 230.76
Karn Sharma bowled Mohit 19 (6) 3 1 316.66
Harbhajan Singh not out 2 (4) 0 0 50.00
Batsmen who didn’t bat: Mitchell McClenaghan, Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga
Extras: 8 (1 no-ball, 5 wides and 2 leg byes)
MI’s total: 223/6 in 20 overs, at 11.15 runs per over
MI’s fall of wickets: 99/1 (Patel, 8.4), 106/2 (Simmons, 9.3), 119/3 (Rohit, 11.4), 121/4 (Rana, 12.4), 176/5 (Pandya, 16.1), and 207/6 (Karn, 17.5)
Punjab bowling
Bowlers Overs Dots bowled Runs conceded Wickets taken Economy rate
Sandeep Sharma 4 8 42 1 10.50
Matt Henry 2 2 40 0 20.00
Ishant Sharma 3 8 29 0 9.67
Mohit Sharma 4 6 57 2 14.25
Axar Patel 3 6 28 1 9.33
Glenn Maxwell 2 5 8 1 4.00
Rahul Tewatia 2 5 17 1 8.50

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