IPL 7: Lendl lends a helping hand

MI climb up to fifth spot after Simmons cracks season’s first ton to help team beat Punjab, stay in the mix.

Written by Shalini Gupta | Mohali | Updated: May 22, 2014 4:12:46 pm

It wasn’t the kind of homecoming Kings XI Punjab were hoping for. The crowd was there, so were the dhols but the dressing room couldn’t really break into a bhangra as Mumbai Indians shocked both the home crowd and KXIP by seven wickets at the PCA Stadium on Wednesday.

Just ahead of the match, KXIP owner Preity Zinta had even conducted a havan in front of the dressing room, but the ritual didn’t yield the desired result as MI chased down KXIP’s 156 with ease. While the loss wouldn’t have hurt Punjab much, the comprehensive victory would cheer the Mumbai Indians as it breathed life back into their campaign, giving them an outside chance of making it to the play offs.

The PCA Stadium also witnessed the first century of the season with West Indian Lendl Simmons smashing a exhilarating 100 off just 61 balls. The 29-year-old’s knock consisted of 14 boundaries and two massive sixes, both executed via his favourite shot, the slog-sweep.

The opener was assisted ably by Michael Hussey and Ambati Rayudu at the other end. He was involved in 68-run opening wicket stand with Hussey, for now settling Mumbai’s longstanding issues at the top of the order, and 43-run second wicket partnership with Rayudu. Simmons showed his class while batting with captain Rohit Sharma. The duo added 37 together before Sharma was removed by Hendricks for 18. Finally, the Trinidadian walked out of the ground with compatriot Kieron Pollard to the happy faces in the dressing room and dug out that included biggies Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Jonty Rhodes.

Fortuitous wicket

Earlier KXIP were made to bat first by the Mumbai Indians captain Sharma. The home team had a good start as Virender Sehwag and Manan Vohra got going. Sehwag was batting at his best against Praveen Kumar and Krishmar Santokie with Vohra on the other end. KXIP had made 23 runs in first two overs. However the KXIP’s initial surge was cut short when Sehwag was run out in an unfortunate way in the innings’ third over. Having pushed a Kumar delivery towards mid-on, Sehwag set off for a customary single but unfortunately the ball richocheted off Vohra’s foot straight into the bowler’s hands. And Kumar wasted no time in knocking down the bails to run out the veteran opener.

Sehwag’s dismissal put the brakes on the run rate for a while. Shaun Marsh, playing his first game in this season in place of David Miller joined Vohra and soon lifted the team. Marsh’s flamboyance came to the fore as he played expansive shots in his 17-ball 30 that included two fours and two sixes. The in-form Vohra too cut loose in Marsh’s company and contributed with a 34-ball 36. After Marsh perished, Vohra gave away his wicket as he was bowled by leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal. Then Gopal struck again, removing Glenn Maxwell for just 2. With the score-card reading 93 for 4 in 11 overs, the table-toppers were suddenly in trouble for a change.

It was then that captain George Bailey took charge and hammered 30-ball 39 runs to propel KXIP to 155 runs in 20 overs.

Rohit begins to believe again

Mohali: Having got a lifeline thanks to their seven-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab here on Wednesday night, Mumbai Indians skipper Rohit Sharma is keeping his fingers crossed, hoping for a favourable results in other matches. “Anything is possible. The important aspect is, we go back to Mumbai, and we hope we put up the performance that is expected of us in familiar territory,” Sharma said at the post-match presentation ceremony.

Asked about the mathematical chance of earning a playoffs berth, he said he was keeping his “fingers crossed” and this is at the back of the team’s mind. The MI captain reiterated that his side was always capable of putting up a dominant show. “I have always said that we are a capable side. It’s just that we didn’t do well in our first five games in the UAE.”

Man of the Match Simmons was thrilled with his effort. “It was was a very good moment to me, was very excited when I got the call for Mumbai,” Simmons said. Asked which shot he enjoyed the most, of all the ones he’d played today, Simmons said, “I like playing my slog sweep, so I enjoyed that one.”

Kings XI Punjab captain George Bailey said this was a good pitch to chase a total. “It was the sort of pitch where it would have been good to chase. It did get a little quicker in the second half of the game.” Bailey top-scored for his side with 39 and helped recover from a middle-order collapse. This was Mumbai Indians’ fifth win in 12 matches. (PTI)

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