Mumbai: Mumbai Indians once again proved their invincibility at home as they successfully defended their impeccable home record with a comfortable 14-run win over Rajasthan Royals in a Indian Premier League match here on Wednesday.
Defending a total of 166 for eight, Mumbai Indians made early inroads which proved decisive in the end as Royals were restricted to 152 for seven. It was the last game for MI at the ‘Fort Wankhede’ which hasn’t been breached by any team this season.
The win took Mumbai to 22 points from 15 games but they pipped CSK to the top of the table by virtue of better run-rate.
As far as Royals are concerned, they are in the play-offs but might have just lost a golden opportunity to get two shots in the knock-outs by finishing among top-two.
Stuart Binny (37 no) and Brad Hodge (39, 7×4) added 56 runs for the seventh wicket after they were reduced to 58 for five within the first 10 overs. Twenty-three runs off a final over from Lasith Malinga was a Herculean task and the script unfolded as the home team would have expected.
Chasing a target of 167, Royals got to the worst possible start as they lost four wickets in the first five overs with only 28 on the board. While Rahul Dravid (4) was very unhappy when he was adjudged caught behind off a short pitched delivery from Mitchell Johnson which he tried to pull. The TV replays were inconclusive.
James Faulkner (11) and Ajinkya Rahane (4) played poor shots to back of the length deliveries from Kulkarni while Sanju Samson was done in by pace and bounce from Johnson.
Shane Watson (19), who had some verbal exchanges with Kieron Pollard pulled Malinga for a couple of sixes but played a rank bad shot off a Pragyan Ojha delivery. It was Pollard who caught Watson in the deep and then gave him a ‘Calypso style’ send-off.
At 58 for five, the onus was on Binny to resurrect the innings. Along with Dishant Yagnik (10), Binny added 30 runs before the former was cleaned up by Harbhajan Singh. Veteran Hodge got four boundaries off Ojha in the 16th over to bring down the equation but that wasn’t enough in the end.
Earlier, young glovesman Aditya Tare hit an attacking half-century as Mumbai Indians scored 166 for eight in the stipulated 20 overs.
Tare, who replaced an injured Sachin Tendulkar, paid back for the faith showed in him by the team management, with a 37-ball-59 that was studded with eight boundaries and a six. The Rajasthan bowlers put up an impressive performance especially in the death overs as MI managed only 34 runs in the final five overs.
While James Faulkner (2/32) and Shane Watson (2/30) were the most successful bowlers, Kevon Cooper (1/27) and 42-year-old leggie Praveen Tambe (1/38) also did well in patches.
Save Tare, none of the other MI batsmen made significant contributions apart from a couple of 20’s from Glenn Maxwell (23) and Dinesh Karthik (21). The new-look Mumbai opening pair of Tare and Maxwell, put on 25 runs out of which 23 were scored by the Australian batsman with the help of three sixes in 17 balls.
Maxwell, who smacked compatriot Faulkner for his first six over long on and Ankit Chavan for two in three balls, was beaten squarely by Waston who trapped him leg before with his second ball.
After the first six overs of power play MI were 49 for 1. Tare, who hit Watson for a six over long on, was dropped on 24 by rival captain Rahul Dravid at mid-wicket off Stuart Binny and utilized his escape to put on a half-century stand worth 76 in 51 balls with Karthik who made a run-a-ball 21.
The wicketkeeper-batsman completed his half century off only 30 balls after hitting Faulkner for successive fours in the lanky left-armer’s second spell and the first 10 overs yielded 81 runs.
Karthik departed in the 12th over soon after MI reached 100, caught in the deep off leg spinner Pravin Tambe who bowled quite well to restrict the run-rate.
Tare departed seven runs later when he mistimed a shot and was caught off the leading edge at covers after scoring his maiden IPL half century. Tare’s dismissal dried up the run-flow as IPL specialists like Rohit Sharma (14) and Kieron Pollard (17) couldn’t make much of an impact.