Winless in their five games in the UAE, the Mumbai Indians finally got two points on the board. Playing their first home match of the season, the Rohit Sharma-led side registered a five-wicket win over table-toppers Kings XI Punjab. After conceding 168 runs to KXIP, MI’s chase was fuelled by the late-innings heroics of Kieron Pollard and Aditya Tare, who took their team home with five balls to spare.
Earlier, George Bailey won the toss and decided to bat first at Wankhede Stadium. Cheteshwar Pujara and Virender Sehwag opened the innings for KXIP. However, Sehwag (1) did not last long as he was run-out courtesy a sharp piece of fielding by Rohit Sharma. And while Pujara (19) got off to a decent start, he could not convert it into a big score and fell prey to Corey Anderson in the fourth over. Thanks to the pressure created by these early wickets, MI were able to hold KXIP down to 36 for two at the end of the powerplay. Wriddhiman Saha and Glenn Maxwell then took their team past the 50-run mark in the eighth over.
The duo kept chipping away at the MI bowlers with Maxwell (45) doing bulk of the scoring. The Australian batsman – who is currently perched atop the run-scorers list in Pepsi IPL 2014 – struck five fours and two maximums during his 27-ball stay in the middle. He was, however, dismissed by Harbhajan Singh in the 12th over. Then, Bailey (15) walked in with the scorecard reading 93 for three. He added 37 runs for the fourth wicket, with Saha, before succumbing to Harbhajan Singh.
However, David Miller came in to bat next and ably supported the well-set Saha, who reached his half-century in the 19th over. Zaheer Khan, meanwhile, clutched his shoulder in the same over and had to leave the ground after bowling just three deliveries; Pollard filled in for him for the remainder of the over. However, that did not bode well for MI as he was greeted by a Miller maximum first up as KXIP breached the 160-run mark. But Malinga bowled a great last over in which he conceded only three runs and picked up the wicket of Miller (16). Saha (59*) remained unbeaten along with Mitchell Johnson (0*) to take KXIP to 168 for five after 20 overs.
In response, MI lost Ben Dunk (5) early; Sandeep Sharma had him caught behind in the first over. CM Gautam was then joined by Ambati Rayudu (8), who also did not last long; Sandeep Sharma trapped him leg-before with the scorecard reading 23 for two in 2.5 overs. MI skipper Rohit Sharma was the next man in, and along with Gautam, he took MI to 49 for two at the end of the powerplay. The duo stitched together 46 runs off 41 balls for the third wicket. However, with the score on 70, Rishi Dhawan trapped Gautam (33) leg-before.
Rohit Sharma was then joined by the hard-hitting Corey Anderson. Both batsmen, especially Anderson, began to go after the KXIP bowlers and brought up the team’s 100 in the 13th over of the innings. But the target was still some ways off, and at one point MI required 51 off 30 balls. And just a short while later, when it seemed like Rohit Sharma (39) had set himself up to take his team home, Lakshmipathy Balaji got the better of him. He was replaced by another hard-hitter, Kieron Pollard. However, just three runs later, Dhawan got rid of Anderson (35) to further dent MI’s run-chase.
Pollard and Aditya Tare were then tasked with the responsibility of chasing down a target that seemed to be slipping away from MI with every passing delivery. But the pair did not give in to the pressure, and with the run-chase equation reading 41 off 18 balls, they plundered 16 runs from the 18th over. And then, off the next over, which was bowled by Mitchell Johnson, Pollard – aided by some big hits and the odd stroke of luck – helped plunder 20 runs. The run-chase equation dipped dramatically to five off six balls, and Pollard (28*) knocked the required runs off with a maximum off the very first delivery of the 20th over. Tare (16*), meanwhile, played a crucial supporting role and remained unbeaten as MI won by five wickets.
Man of the Match: Corey Anderson for his all-round performance