Mumbai Indians consolidated their place in the playoffs of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 with a five-wicket win over the whipping boys Pune Warriors India. Mumbai thus skipped over the Rajasthan Royals to second place in the points table, while Pune glued themselves to the bottom.
Chasing a lowly 113 for victory, Mumbai lost five wickets before eventually getting there. It wasn’t the most convincing of wins, but good enough for the superstars of the IPL to tell the table-toppers, the Chennai Super Kings, that they aren’t runaway favourites for the title.
Pune were looking to stem a losing streak that had extended to their last eight matches prior to this game and, as captain Aaron Finch put it at the toss, they were “looking forward to end our campaign on a high”. However, they didn’t make much headway towards that as they ambled along to a none-too-imposing total.
The Warriors lost their big-hitting openers, Finch (10) and Robin Uthappa (11), early, before Yuvraj Singh (33) and Manish Pandey (28) put on a watchful third-wicket partnership as Pune reached 58 for two at the halfway stage. Yuvi, in desperate need of a few runs this season, then carted Pragyan Ojha for two typical slog-sweeps over deep mid-wicket for six to raise some hopes of a good finish.
However, when Pandey hit Lasith Malinga’s full toss straight to Ambati Rayudu at deep mid-wicket in the 13th over, the dam was breached as Mumbai broke through. The hosts slumped from 84 for two to 112 for eight, which the powerpacked Mumbai batting line-up shouldn’t find too difficult to achieve.
Mitchell Johnson was the pick of the bowlers for Mumbai, bowling an economical two for eight in his four overs, and put his team in pole position for the win.
Ashok Dinda sent Dwayne Smith’s off-stump cartwheeling 20 metres back on the first ball of the second innings to get the Warriors pumped up in their defence. It got better for the home side five overs later as Sachin Tendulkar was deceived by Ajantha Mendis’s carom ball and gave an easy catch to Manish Pandey at long-on to make it 25 for two. It got even better for Pune a couple of overs later when Dinesh Karthik mistimed a lofted on-drive to give Pandey his second catch.
Just when you thought Mumbai were making a mess of an easy win, Ambati Rayudu walked in at No 5 and combined with skipper Rohit Sharma to revive the chase. The duo took their sweet time to get settled and steady the wobble, their low required rate helping them in the process.
Rohit and Rayudu patiently guided Mumbai closer to their target, bringing up the half-century in their partnership in the 16th over after Rayudu hit Dinda for back-to-back boundaries. The stringy Pune pacer, however, got one back for his side the same over after a slow bouncer was scooped towards deep mid-wicket where Angelo Mathews took a good diving catch.
It was too little too late for the Warriors to avoid a ninth straight defeat of the season as the million dollar baby Glenn Maxwell — making his IPL debut — stuck till the end, giving his team a comfortable win.
Once again, it was the mature head of Rohit that got Mumbai to their win after the early stutter. Unfortunately for the 25-year-old, he was dismissed with his team needing a run to win and couldn’t hit the winning run. Rohit cut Mitchell Marsh straight to short fine-leg that brought up a wry smile on the bowler’s face, but Harbhajan Singh was there to wipe it off as he spanked the Australian over deep extra cover to finish it off.
Pune Warriors India 112 for 8 in 20 overs (Yuvraj Singh 33, Manish Pandey 29; Mitchell Johnson 2 for 8) lost to Mumbai Indians 116 for 5 in 18.5 overs (Rohit Sharma 37, Ambati Rayudu 26; Ashok Dinda 2 for 35) by 5 wickets.