Lendl Simmons stole the thunder with a scintillating 61-ball 100, singlehandedly powering Mumbai Indians to a morale-boosting seven-wicket win over table toppers Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League in Mohali on Wednesday.
Simmons smashed 14 fours and two sixes during his unbeaten knock as the visitors chased down the target of 157 with an over to spare and keep their hopes alive in the tournament. Simmons’ was the first three-figure score in this edition of the T20 league.
This was Mumbai Indians’ fifth win in 11 matches while Kings XI Punjab had already assured themselves a place in the playoffs.
Simmons was on the ball right away, hitting medium pacer Sandeep Sharma for three fours in the innings’ first over at the PCA Stadium.
Beuran Hendricks was given a similar treatment, the bowler being picked for three more boundaries as the 29-year-old Simmons raced to 33 off just 16 balls.
The onslaught continued and none of the Kings XI Punjab bowlers had any clue about where to bowl to the marauding West Indian.
Shivam Sharma and Rishi Dhawan were smashed for 19 and 17 runs respectively in their first two overs. Dhawan, though, made a comeback to finish with figures of 1/30 in four overs, respectable in the face of such onslaught. Akshar Patel had 1/27 in his four.
With Simmons in such a mood, his opening partner Mike Hussey was not needed to do anything and when he got out the experienced Australian had just six runs to his name in a partnership of 68 that came in seven overs.
Mumbai Indians lost Ambati Rayudu after that but Simmons was unperturbed as he continued to torment the Kings XI bowlers. Simmons had added 43 runs with Rayudu before the Indian got out.
When Sandeep Sharma was brought back, he was hit for a massive six, which was Simmons’ second, the first coming against Shivam.
With Mumbai Indians needing less than 50 runs with plenty of overs to go, Rohit Sharma joined hands with Simmons to take his side to victory before the skipper was dismissed by Hendricks. Kieron Pollard hit a six, after Simmons reached his century with a flick, to finish off the game.
Earlier, Kings XI Punjab recovered from a middle-order collapse to post a challenging 156 for eight.
Skipper George Bailey top-scored with 39 while Manan Vohra and Shaun Marsh contributed 36 and 30 respectively at the PCA stadium.
Sent into bat, Kings XI Punjab were strongly placed at 90 for two after the first 10 overs, but lost their way after that before Bailey anchored the innings with some calculative batting.
For Mumbai Indians, Jasprit Bumrah (2/31) and Shreyas Gopal (2/32) were the most successful bowlers.
Kings XI Punjab were off with a bang as Virender Sehwag launched the innings with a couple of sixes — the first one soaring over extra cover before the batsman dispatched a slower one straight over the bowler’s head.
But the opener’s innings was cut short when he was run out in an unfortunate dismissal by Praveen Kumar who, after the ball hit no-striker Manan Vohra’s foot, run back to knock the bails off.
In came Shaun Marsh and, in the season’s first appearance, raced to 30 off just 17 balls with the help of two sixes and as many fours. Vohra too went along nicely to keep the run rate healthy.
But the 64-run partnership between Vohra and Marsh was ended as the Aussie went for heave towards the on side only to be bowled by Krishmar Santokie.
That triggered a collapse as Kings XI Punjab lost a flurry of wickets, including the big one of Glenn Maxwell to Shreyas Gopal, to be stuttering at 116 for six in the 17th over.
Bailey then added 38 runs in just 3.2 overs with Rishi Dhawan, who hit a couple of fours in his nine-ball 14, to help KXIP’s cause.