It was a ‘home’ game for Mumbai Indians, but it was Sunrisers Hyderabad, whose base is geographically closest to Visakhapatnam, that rode on Shikhar Dhawan’s unbeaten 82 and Ashish Nehra’s new-ball burst that fetched him three wickets, to defend 177 with aplomb. A sixth win in nine matches assured them a second spot for the moment, irrespective of the result between Kolkata Knight Riders and Gujarat Lions at Eden Gardens on Sunday.
Four of Rohit Sharma’s five half-centuries resulted in successful chases for Mumbai this season. Against Sunrisers, he lasted three balls and exposed a middle order that has thrived on Rohit’s holding role. They couldn’t find form against a rampaging Nehra, whose late swing broke Mumbai’s backbone with the strikes of Rohit, Ambati Rayudu and Jos Buttler. At 30 for 4 after four overs, it was a case of trying to limit damage for Mumbai, with Sunrisers’ bowling depth shining through once again in their 85-run win at the ACA-VDCA Stadium.
Rohit poked at an inswinger with leaden feet, and a thick inside edge clattered into off stump. Rayudu, Mumbai’s second-highest run-scorer this season, fended a skiddy bouncer to point, while Butter was pouched by Naman Ojha, who stuck out his right hand to pull off a one-handed stunner. The meltdown was complete when Kieron Pollard miscued a slower ball to long-on in the ninth over to leave Mumbai in tatters at 49 for 6.
The brisk start was once again provided by David Warner, who dispatched offerings from Mumbai’s pacers as Sunrisers raced to 51 in the Powerplay after being sent in. The effervescence of his strokeplay forced Rohit to pack the off-side field with five fielders at one stage. Still, he pierced the gap as the bowlers continued to offer him width.
Warner’s enterprise allowed Shikhar Dhawan to slip into the anchor role, but his sweetly-timed strokes on a fast outfield allowed him to find the boundary regularly. Both batsmen used the depth of the crease to ride the bounce on a fresh surface.
After the Powerplay, Dhawan used deft touches and flicks to give Warner as much strike even as Mumbai’s spinners, in an effort to stem the damage, tried to fire the ball in. Warner welcomed Harbhajan with a biff for six over long-on before receiving a succession of darts outside off, which he failed to squeeze through.
Warner holed out to Pollard at long-off, off Harbhajan, in the 10th over to give Mumbai some relief. In the next over, Harbhajan set up Kane Williamson by deceiving him in flight, and Rohit completed a low catch at midwicket. The double-strike stalled Sunrisers, who managed just 31 off the five overs following Warner’s dismissal.
In the 15th over, Yuvraj Singh signalled the switch in momentum again as he made room and scorched a drive into the cover boundary. Yuvraj followed that with a clean connection that sent a slower delivery soaring over wide long-on for six, as he maximised timing with minimal feet movement.
At the other end, Dhawan used his strong wrists to pepper the leg-side field. He accelerated the run-scoring once past his half-century, hitting Jasprit Bumrah for three fours in four balls in the 16th over. Yuvraj and Dhawan’s 85-run stand off 49 balls came to an end when Yuvraj clattered his stumps to be out hit-wicket, but the end-overs carnage gave them the momentum which Nehra rode to derail the chase.
Mustafizur Rahman, introduced in the ninth over, struck twice in successive overs to effectively finish Mumbai off. Harbhajan hung around to delay Mumbai’s fifth loss before Barinder Sran closed the game out by dismissing Bumrah in the 17th over. By winning in the manner they did, Sunrisers also boosted their net run-rate, a factor that could come in handy if teams are tied on points.