Imran Tahir claimed 3 for 28 off his 4 overs    AFP
Imran Tahir claimed 3 for 28 off his 4 overs AFP

Mumbai Indians (MI) huffed and puffed but managed to put up a competitive 185 run target against Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS), in their first match of this year s Indian Premier League (IPL) at the MCA Stadium in Pune. Top-ranked limited-overs bowler Imran Tahir (in both ODIs and T20Is) rocked Mumbai Indians with 3 wickets after two-time champions MI were off to a flying start, and Rajat Bhatia backed up Tahir with two wickets in the middle overs to keep a tab on the batting unit. However, Mumbai Indians recovered to post a total that did not look like achievable at one point of time, with Hardik Pandya slamming 4 sixes and a four in the final over to shift the momentum completely towards his side. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) vs Mumbai Indians (MI), IPL 2017 Match 2

Stuttering at one stage, Mumbai Indians found their heroes in Jos Buttler (38), Nitish Rana (34), Pandya (35*) and Kieron Pollard (27) to ensure they made a positive start in their campaign. Fortunes swung from one side to the other quickly, with Mumbai making a brisk start and losing their way in the middle overs, only to find their confidence back to hammer 57 runs in the last 5 overs. Ashok Dinda, who began with 11 runs in his first over, was smacked for 30 runs in the last (a new record for most runs conceded in the last over of an IPL innings) and he returned figures of 4-0-57-0. FULL CRICKET UPDATES: Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) vs Mumbai Indians (MI), IPL 2017 Match 2

Tahir proved in his first spell proved how wrong the franchises were in not selecting him during the IPL 10 auction. He began with cleaning up Parthiv Patel around his legs, and did not allow Rohit Sharma to make a successful return to cricket after six months. The Mumbai Indians captain was cramped for room on a wrong un by Tahir, the ball hitting the wickets after deflecting from the pads.

Buttler looked in ominous form, living up to his reputation with some excellent strokes. He welcomed England teammate Ben Stokes to IPL with 2 sixes off his first over. The first of these soared over long-on boundary. The second was perhaps the shot of the innings: when Stokes bowled short, Buttler made room and guided the ball over MS Dhoni s head for six.

However, Tahir pulled things back in control for RPS, dismissing Rohit and Buttler in the next over and dismantling Mumbai s top order all by himself. He was lucky to get Buttler, his third wicket: Buttler was given out leg-before for a brisk 19-ball 38, but replays revealed an inside edge. Buttler hit 3 sixes and 3 fours.

Earlier, Mumbai Indians made a terrific start to their IPL 2017 campaign. In what came as a surprising move, Rohit batted at N0. 3 with Buttler and Parthiv opening for them. It was difficult to pick the better among the two, as both men adopted an aggressive approach right from the start.

Mumbai Indians had raced to 41 for no loss in 4 overs. Buttler made his intentions clear with 2 boundaries off Deepak Chahar in the next over, and Parthiv hammered 2 more in the over that followed, from Dinda.

Bhatia, who claimed 2 wickets later on, began with an elementary mistake when he spilled a regulation catch on the final ball of the third over at third-man to give a lifeline to Parthiv.

Nitish Rana played a handy knock of 34 off 28 balls, which came at a crucial time for MI after they lost a flurry of wickets. He struck 1 boundary and 2 sixes during his innings.

Kieron Pollard then waged a battle for Mumbai Indians. He looked to add crucial late runs but his innings was cut short by a brilliant effort by Mayank Agarwal at long-on in the penultimate over off Stokes, gifting the most expensive IPL player of the season his first wicket. Pollard s brutal strike down the ground was grabbed by Agarwal who dove in his front to take an acrobatic catch.

Pollard’s exit might have doused Mumbai Indians’ hopes, since Pandya had gone almost unnoticed till then. He rose to the occasion in the final over, collecting 30 runs off one of the most experienced bowlers in the Indian domestic circuit. The first 3 balls were hit for sixes, followed by a four and another six, the fourth of Pandya s innings.

Surprisingly, despite Bhatia giving away a mere 14 runs off his 3 overs in which he claimed 2 wickets, Dinda was preferred ahead of him for the final over.

Brief scores:

Mumbai Indians 184 for 8 in 20 overs (Jos Buttler 38, Nitish Rana 34, Hardik Pandya 35*; Hardik Pandya 3 for 28, Rajat Bhatia 2 for 14) vs Rising Pune Supergiant