Mumbai Indians brought the curtains down on Maharashtra Day with an eight-wicket win over Rising Pune Supergiants at the MCA Stadium. Rohit Sharma’s fourth half-century in a chase this season an unbeaten 60-ball 85 – helped make light work of a 160 chase as they sealed their fifth win with nine balls to spare.
Rohit merely completed the job that was set up by Mumbai’s bowlers, who clawed back to concede just 66 in the second half of Supergiants’ innings after Steven Smith and Saurabh Tiwary clobbered the ball to all parts of the ground in their second-wicket stand of 84 off 44 balls.
A flurry of boundaries, misjudged catches and poor fielding formed the crux of the first 10 overs of the Supergiants innings afer Ajinkya Rahane’s early dismissal. Smith, who was reprieved on 1 by Parthiv Patel, was quickly into his stride, hitting three successive boundaries off Tim Southee in the third over.
The confidence of a century in the previous game showed in Smith’s approach of trying to dominate right from the outset. One moment, he was pulling in front of square. Next, he swiftly used the depth of the crease to cut and ramp the ball over third man. He raced to 33 off 14 deliveries as Supergiants brought up their fifty in the sixth over.
It wasn’t only Smith who rode luck, though. Tiwary, who should have been sent back for four, was let off when Jasprit Bumrah fluffed a regulation chance at mid-on in the fourth over, off Mitchell McClenaghan. The let-off galvanized Tiwary, who raced from 6 off 11 deliveries to 34 off 22 balls, as Supergiants took control.
His modus operandi wasn’t too complicated: staying deep inside the crease, he cleared his front leg and used his big broad shoulders to repeatedly find the legside boundaries. He was severe on Krunal Pandya, the left-arm spinner, who was hit for two sixes and a four in his second over that went for 20.
Bumrah was reintroduced with Supergiants at 91 for 1 in nine overs, and he struck off his second delivery when Smith’s attempted dab down to third man resulted in a deflection to MS Dhoni. From there on, the innings stuttered like a two-stroke engine running out of oil.
The pressure of being unable to keep up with the scoring resulted in Peter Handscomb picking out deep square leg. Two quick wickets not only allowed Mumbai to apply the brakes, but also brought about an air of hesitancy in Tiwary’s game. MS Dhoni, who walked in to bat at No. 5 in the 13th over, also struggled to bring out his big hits.
While McClenaghan hustled the batsmen, Bumrah varied his lengths effectively through a mix of yorkers and cutters to apply the brakes. Harbhajan Singh too, without threatening to take wickets, kept a lid on the runs by darting the ball and cramping the batsmen for room. All of this resulted in Supergiants hitting just three fours from in their last 11 overs as Mumbai went into the break with momentum.
Rohit made his intentions clear. Happy to swing the length balls, he got away with two thick edges that flew towards third man, in the third over. Parthiv was in sparkling form though, driving on the up to hit Ashok Dinda for three successive boundaries before nicking the fourth ball to Dhoni. By then, Mumbai had wiped out 39 in four overs.
Ambati Rayudu did what he normally does, quietly nudge the ball, pick the singles and hit the odd boundary. He broke the shackles in the seventh over, Ashwin’s first, by stepping out and lofting him for a six over long-on. With little or no pressure to contend with, Rohit effortlessly reeled off runs, a majority of which came in the arc between deep midwicket and long-on.
Rayudu fell trying to hit one too many to give Supergiants a respite. But 67 off eight overs gave Jos Buttler enough time to find his hitting range, even as Rohit brought up his fifth fifty in five chases to throw Supergiants’ campaign into disarray as they continued to sit in the bottom half of the table with six losses in eight matches.