Mumbai Indians ensured they would go into their eliminator match against Chennai with momentum on their side after thumping Rajasthan Royals by 10 wickets at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium on Sunday. In their final match before the IPL enters the playoff stage,Mumbai overhauled Royals total of 162 thanks to the IPL’s best-ever opening partnership. Openers Dwayne Smith and Sachin Tendulkar were unseparated as Mumbai won with 12 balls to spare.
The 16th match,more or less like a practice fixture for Mumbai as they had already qualified,turned into a perfect result for a team that has had an oscillating season. With the last-four spot assured,experiments were always on the cards and Mumbai promoted Smith to open with Tendulkar. While Tendulkar utilised his experience well and stuck to his trade mark game,Smith,started slow but soon hit the top gear.
Smith dispatched Chandila for three massive sixes,whose deceptive style of bowling he cracked early in the innings. Tendulkar kept giving strike to Smith,who got to his fifty in 34 balls. If the knock showcased his skills in playing a longer innings,there were also instances which gave the idea that he was an impatient campaigner. His knock of 87 in 58 balls saw him scooping the ball thrice,but Lady Luck was on his side on the day. He was dropped on one occasion and on another,Trivedi paid the price for overstepping after catching Smith of his own bowling.
Though the result showcased the batting in good light,the bowling unit continues to suffer from glitches and has been a problem through the season. RP Singh,who for the last few matches has found his inswing,struggled with the older ball. Interestingly,Dhawal Kulkarni,who got a look-in as a part of Harbhajan Singh’s plan to experiment,picked up three wickets Rahul Dravid,Ajinkya Rahane and Stuart Binny. Despite the wickets,Kulkarni was a bit wayward. Lasith Malinga too went for runs,with his four overs yielding 32 runs. Known for his ability in the slog overs,Malinga was not able to make too much of an impact on the match.
Skipper Harbhajan too endured a disappointing game,going at over ten-an-over as he conceded 31 in three,with Shane Watson (45) and later Stuart Binny (30) doing the damage. In the end it was Kulkarni,who may not play against Chennai,that put the breaks on Rajasthan Royals scoring. But Mumbai will know that their regular bowlers cannot afford to have an off day once the knockout stages commence.
BRIEF SCORES: Rajasthan Royals 162/6 in 20 overs (S Watson 45,S Binny 30,D Kulkarni 3/18) lost to Mumbai Indians 163/0 in 18 overs (D Smith not out 87,S Tendulkar not out 58)