Mumbai Indians came out on top in a crucial home match against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Vivo-IPL 9 at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday.
Having turned the odds in its favour by half time having restricted its opponent to a modest total of 170, the home team crossed the finish-line with a sizeable contribution from its skipper Rohit Sharma (62, 44b, 4x4, 3x6), a scintillating second-wicket partnership in which Ambati Rayudu chipped in with a weighty score (31, 23b, 5x4) and some big hits from Jos Buttler and Kieron Pollard.
Pollard, back in the XI after missing a match, took heavy toll on fast bowler Kane Richardon, and his quickfire unbeaten 39 (19b, 4x4, 3x6) paved the way for his side’s second win in five matches.
The two points MI earned from this win took it to fourth place in the eight-team league.
With K. L. Rahul replacing Chris Gayle in the Royal Challengers Bangalore ranks, things got off to a quiet enough start. Virat Kohli just ambled for a single first and thereafter played two dot balls in the first over from Tim Southee.
But intensity picked up the following over with left-armer Mitchell McClenaghan bringing Rahul down with a steepling first ball. Remarkably, Rahul was quickly up on his feet and ran a bye.
Unperturbed by the blow, Rahul got back at McClenaghan in his second over with two sixes, the first one a hard hit over cover and second an upper-cut off another short ball. These fearlessly executed shots were followed up with a flicked four to square leg in the same over, and Rahul seemed to have won that pulsating contest-within-the-contest.
McClenaghan had the last laugh, though, getting the opener to steer an angled delivery into the hands of Harbhajan Singh at first slip. Rahul made 23 (14b, 2x4, 2x6).
The visitors took the blow in their stride and the second-wicket stand between Kohli and AB de Villiers (29, 21b, 3x4, 1x6) yielded 59 from 39 balls.
Then, left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya managed to get rid of Kohli (33, 30b, 3x4), who holed out to Southee at long off. In the same over, Krunal beat de Villiers in the air and off the pitch, and Parthiv Patel whipped the bails off.
The Challengers slipped further when Jasprit Bumrah had Shane Watson caught brilliantly by Parthiv.
Travis Head, making his IPL debut, and young Sarfaraz Khan put on a rousing partnership of 63 off 34 balls for the fifth wicket to take the Challengers to a fighting total.