Rana fifty sets up MI's maiden win against the Lions

Batters from both teams played quick-fire knocks, but it was Mumbai Indians that had the last laugh against Gujarat Lions.

Nitish Rana, who scored his third fifty in this IPL, propelled Mumbai Indians' chase at the start.   -  PTI

There were power-packed knocks from a handful of batsmen; Brendon McCullum and Dinesh Karthik scored in brisk fashion for the Gujarat Lions (GL); Nitish Rana, Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard showed their individual brilliance for Mumbai Indians (MI).

Generally, the Wankhede pitch gives leeway for the batsmen to dictate terms.

In the end, however, the home team notched its most emphatic win — by five wickets and three balls to spare — in this season's IPL.


MI — set a target of 177 — enjoyed a big slice of luck when its in-form batsman Rana (on nine) was dropped by Jason Roy at mid wicket off Basil Thampi. MI was 11 for one, then. Rana's fall would have put the home team, looking to score at almost nine an over then, under immense pressure. The left-hander, who has been in good nick this season, went on to make a rollicking half-century (53, 36b, 4x4, 2x6).

Player of the match

After Rana and Jos Buttler departed, Sharma and Pollard batted freely and took heavy toll of a Lions’ attack that featured the long-forgotten seamer Munaf Patel in its ranks. Pollard struck the big blows to take his team close to the finishing line. The Lions would regret Rana's dropped catch and the five wides conceded by Praveen Kumar in an over. It was MI’s first win against the Lions.

After winning the toss, MI captain Sharma chose to field, a decision that brought McCullum, one of the powerful hitters, to the middle. When McCullum is in the thick of action, the entertainment quotient climbs swiftly.  The 35-year-old from Dunedin, on Sunday afternoon, took charge of the Lions innings and brought joy to the thousands of boys and girls of the Reliance Foundation's "Education for all" programme.

Barbadian opener Dwayne Smith perished in the second ball of the match after playing a fierce shot into the hands of Rana at backward point. But McCullum and skipper Suresh Raina, with some bold hits, scored 80 runs off 64 balls for the second wicket. Although Raina began with two boundaries — to fine leg and square leg — it was McCullum who outsmarted MI’s fast bowlers. Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah together conceded  96 runs; it was the Sri Lankan’s worst spell in IPL.

McCullum's robust hitting enabled the Lions to keep the scoreboard ticking at eight an over. Soon, Harbhajan Singh, Krunal Pandya and left-arm seamer Mitchell McClenaghan choked the supply of runs and picked up three wickets.  

At 99 for three in the middle of the 14th over, MI appeared to have taken control of the match when Karthik came and swung into action straightaway, making the most of a no-ball from Bumrah, which he sent to the square point fence. Thereafter he hit a flurry of big shots, including a six, as the fourth wicket pair went on to add 54 off 23 balls. Karthik has shown remarkable appetite for runs this season and his 26-ball 48 is another testimony.

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