It is not often that a team opts to bat first, bats out their entire twenty overs, yet finishes with only 124 runs on the board. Yet that is precisely what happened to the Mumbai Indians. Unsure of how the surface would behave, the Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma won his ninth toss in 12 matches this season and put the onus on his batsmen to set up the game. But that decision backfired almost immediately as MI lost opener Unmukt Chand and Ambati Rayudu in the first three overs.
Nitish Rana, who batted at number four, and Rohit Sharma, too found it difficult to get going. The third wicket pair consumed plenty of deliveries, but struggled to get the ball off the square; MI were 21-2 at the end of six overs – the lowest score in the Powerplay period. With runs coming in trickles, the pressure was building and Rohit succumbed to the pressure; he attempted to sweep the left-arm spinner Axar Patel, but didn’t make contact and had his stumps rattled. Rana too struggled to pick up singles; he made 25 from 28 balls – which included three sixes - before he chased a wide delivery from Marcus Stoinis and only succeeded in edging one to the wicketkeeper.
After Jos Buttler holed out to long off in the 14th over, MI stitched together a 42-run partnership – the highest of the innings – between Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya. Both batsmen struggled too, but used aggressive methods to break the shackles; Pollard hit three sixes down the ground, while Krunal hit a four and a six in his 12-ball 19. Just when it appeared that they would take MI to a total around 150, both batsmen were dismissed off successive deliveries; Krunal holed out to midwicket, while Pollard (27 from 20 balls) dragged one back onto his stumps in the 17th over. Harbhajan Singh chipped in with a cameo at the end scoring 14 from 10 balls.
It was surprising that MI did not take stock of conditions and alter their ploy mid-way through the innings; their batsmen batted out 65 dot balls and only ran 40 singles in their twenty overs. MI finished at 124-9.
For the visitors, Marcus Stoinis was the wrecker-in-chief; he was brought on to bowl just after the Powerplay overs, and demolished the MI middle-order. His scalps included Rana, Buttler, Krunal and Pollard. The Australian returned with his career-best figures in T20 cricket – 4-0-15-4 – also the best figures by a KXIP bowler in VIVO IPL 2016. Sandeep Sharma (16 dot balls), who produced a beautiful inswinger to see the back of Rayudu, and Mohit Sharma picked up two wickets apiece, while Axar Patel accounted for the MI captain’s dismissal. The mystery spinner KC Cariappa (0-36) bowled three good overs before Pollard and Pandya took 17 of his final over.
When it was their turn to bat, KXIP were clinical. Despite losing Hashim Amla in the very first over of the chase, KXIP cruised to the target - courtesy the 116-run partnership between Murali Vijay and Wriddhiman Saha. Both batsmen went about their job with a precise plan; unlike their opponents who played out several dot deliveries, Vijay and Saha kept finding the gaps and kept the scoreboard ticking all the time. The second wicket pair were cautious to begin with, consuming 46 runs to bring up the 50 of the partnership. But as they approached closer to the target, they started playing a few shots; the pair brought up the 100 of the partnership – KXIP’s first century partnership since the IPL 2014 Final – in 77 balls.
Saha was the first to get to 50; the wicketkeeper-batsman hit six fours and a six before he dragged one from Mitchell McClenaghan onto his stumps with his team needing eight for a win. Murali Vijay got to his third half-century as KXIP captain and remained unbeaten on 54 (52 balls, 5 fours, 1 six). Though the visitors lost Glenn Maxwell for a first-ball duck, Gurkeerat Singh took the team over the line when he hit Tim Southee for a boundary through mid-on. KXIP won at the end of the 17th over.
Mumbai Indians 124-9 in 20.0 Overs (Kieron Pollard 27, Nitish Rana 25, Marcus Stoinis 4-15, Sandeep Sharma 2-11, Mohit Sharma 2-26) lost to Kings XI Punjab 127-3 in 17.0 Overs (Murali Vijay 54*, Wriddhiman Saha 56), McClenaghan 2-24.
Man of the Match: Marcus Stoinis, for his spell of 4-0-15-4.