The afternoon began with Jos Buttler, the team’s standout performer, flying back home and Steve Smith replacing Ajinkya Rahane as captain.
The last-minute changes did not unsettle the Rajasthan Royals, which cruised to a five-wicket win and kept its playoff hopes alive in this edition of the IPL.
It was a truly remarkable win for the Royals, playing without their leading scorer. After rotating his bowlers smartly — he had rightly put Mumbai Indians in — Smith showed grit and application with the bat to help his team reach home with five balls to spare.
READ| RR vs MI Highlights
He remained unbeaten on 59 (48b); his 70-run partnership with the impressive 17-year-old Riyan Parag (43, 29b) putting the host side on course for a comfortable win.
Leg-spinner Rahul Chahar’s second successive three-wicket haul had put the Royals under some pressure. That was after Sanju Samson, the obvious choice to take up Buttler’s opening position, had given them a fine start with a flurry of big hits.
Earlier, the Royals did well to restrict Mumbai's scoring-rate to just over eight despite Jofra Archer dropping three catches in the field.
The England all-rounder, however, redeemed himself in the final over, dismissing the dangerous Hardik Pandya, whose onslaughts towards the end have been crucial to Mumbai’s campaign this season. He came up with a brilliant yorker to trap the batsman lbw. Hardik made 23 off 15 balls, after being dropped on two and 14, both off Jaydev Unadkat.
But the Royals had to pay a costlier price for the other dropped catch of opener Quinton de Kock. The Protean was on six when his mistimed a shot off Shreyas Gopal towards long-on, where a running Archer got both hands to the ball but failed to hold on.
Earlier in the over, the leg-spinner had provided the host the break-through, with yet another googly. He had the Mumbai captain stepping out of his crease and offering a bat-pad return catch.
In the next over, de Kock celebrated his reprieve in style, hitting Dhawal Kulkarni for three fours and a six in a row. The left-hander (65, 47b) was finally sent back by a Shreyas googly but not before he had made his second fifty of the season against the Royals. His second-wicket stand with Suryakumar Yadav (34) was worth 97.
That would not prove to be enough though, as Mumbai’s dismal record continued at this venue, where it hasn’t won since 2012. And it was its second loss to the Royals inside a week.
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