Steven Smith scored a match-winning half century to take his team home © PTI
Steven Smith scored a match-winning half century to take his team home © PTI

Rajasthan Royals registered their third consecutive win in Indian Premier League (IPL) 2015 tournament, as they defeated Mumbai Indians by seven wickets at Motera, Ahmedabad. Devarchit Varma brings the highlights from the ninth match of the IPL 8 tournament.

Mumbai Indians choke once again while batting: Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma exuded lot of confidence when he declared that his side will be batting first. After a sedate start, Aaron Finch was carried off the pitch suffering a hamstring injury and Parthiv Patel and Unmukt Chand fell without troubling the scorers. The worst was that Mumbai skipper Rohit got his second consecutive duck, which somehow halted Mumbai’s innings. Mumbai faced lot of difficulties when they lost their top-order, but thanks to Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson, they were able to post a respectable total.

Kieron Pollard finally comes good: The brawny Caribbean cricketer was all at sea in the previous match, and failed to make the opportunity count. But Pollard was in his elements today, as he dismantled the Rajasthan bowling attack with aggressive batting and merciless hitting of the ball. Pollard swatted as many as five sixes and seven boundaries and raced to 70 off 34 balls, adding 104 runs with Corey Anderson and thus reviving Mumbai’s innings.

Corey Anderson provides strong support: The left-handed batsman slammed his second half-century in three IPL matches so far, thus establishing himself in the middle-order. Anderson took charge initially when he and Pollard came together at the crease, and played an excellent second fiddle when the big batsman was going berserk. And after Pollard’s dismissal, Anderson took charge of the proceedings and helped Mumbai to a challengeable total. Anderson struck three sixes and five boundaries to score 50 off 38 balls.

Rahul Dravid embarrassed: The last time when these two sides had met, Rahul Dravid was seen throwing his cap in despair as Rajasthan had failed to prevent Mumbai edging past them in the Playoffs round of IPL 2014. Since these two sides were back against each other, the big screen at the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmadabad showed the replay and then the cameras rolled on Dravid. The Rajasthan mentor was first seen smiling, and then hiding his face.

Ajinkya Rahane and Steven Smith’s partnership: The two right-handers, both in form, teamed up when Sanju Samson fell early in Rajasthan’s chase. Both Rahane and Smith went about their job with perfection, not giving Mumbai Indians any chance to cause any more damage. They dealt in singles and doubles, and kept picking boundaries at regular intervals to keep Rajasthan on track. The partnership was ended on the first ball of the 14th over, when Rahane, looking for a big hit, ended up hitting straight to Anderson fielding at long off. Rahane fell after scoring 39-ball 46, studded with four boundaries. Rahane and Smith added 64 runs for the second wicket.

Steven Smith’s fighting half-century: It looked like the right-handed run machine was struggling to get the big hits. But in the 17th over from Lasith Malinga, Smith plundered 15 runs, hitting the star bowler for three fours and putting the Rajasthan Royals right back on top. Smith continued to find gaps with utmost ease, and thus leading his side to third consecutive win in IPL 2015. Smith was unbeaten on 79 off 53 balls, hitting eight boundaries and a six.

(Devarchit Varma is a reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed on Twitter @Devarchit)