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Saturday, October 31, 2020

MI firepower humbles KXIP: Death bowling is Punjab’s bugbear again

Kings XI were in the game till 15 overs of the first innings but after that, as MI raised their game, KL Rahul’s team fizzled.

Written by Shamik Chakrabarty | Updated: October 2, 2020 4:12:16 pm
iplMI scored 89 runs in the last five overs as Kieron Pollard and Hardik Pandya went berserk to post 191/4. (Twitter/MumbaiIndians)

After the Super Over heartbreak in their last game, Mumbai Indians bounced back with a bang. A princely Rohit Sharma and a fiery Kieron Pollard – honourable mention Hardik Pandya – laid the foundation for their 48-run victory against Kings XI Punjab. Their bowlers, then, put in a disciplined performance. Kings XI were in the game till 15 overs of the first innings but after that, as MI raised their game, KL Rahul’s team fizzled.

Princely Rohit, fiery Pollard

The game had a subplot to the main story – Rohit versus Mohammed Shami. Before the two leading men from either side entered the scene, Sheldon Cottrell had already bowled a beauty to castle Quinton de Kock in the first over.

Shami’s first ball to Rohit was a loosener, dispatched through the covers for a four. The boundary took Rohit to the 5,000- IPL run club, alongside Suresh Raina and Virat Kohli. The MI captain then hit a gorgeous back foot drive past cover point for another four. Shami’s response was a ripper that came back after pitching. Rohit was adjudged leg-before, a decision that DRS overturned.

Shami returned for his second spell after seven overs. In between, Suryakumar Yadav was run out by a direct hit from Shami, while Ishan Kishan, unlike the last match, got stuck. But Rohit was in for the long haul. A run rate below seven wasn’t bothering him. He played out the over.

MI, in fact, planned their innings very well. Kings XI were seemingly caught in a death overs quagmire, understandable after their back-end bowling implosion against Rajasthan Royals. Cottrell bowled three overs upfront and came back to bowl his fourth midway into the MI innings. Kings XI only had Shami’s pace to fall back on in the slog overs.

After 15 overs, Mumbai were 102/3 – time to push the accelerator. Rohit’s cultured aggression accounted for two fours and as many sixes off a Jimmy Neesham over. The opener had raced to 70 off 44 balls before Shami dismissed him on the first ball of his final spell, thanks to a lovely assist from Glenn Maxwell at the long-off boundary, with Neesham completing the catch.

Pollard and Hardik Pandya then laid into the Kings XI bowling. Neesham’s medium pace followed by K Gowtham’s off-spin at the death against Pollard (47 not out, 20 balls) and Pandya (30 not out, 11 balls) was an accident waiting to happen. Pollard, in fact, damaged Shami’s figures also with three consecutive fours. Gowtham conceded 25 runs in the final over; a six from Pandya and three from Pollard. MI scored 89 runs in the last five overs to post 191/4.

KXIP tamed

For the last two matches, Kings XI batting had been all about their openers – Rahul and Mayank Agarwal. Chasing 192 for victory, the duo started briskly. Agarwal looked to be in fabulous touch, but Jasprit Bumrah breached his defence with the ball of the match. Rahul was bowled around his legs by leggie Rahul Chahar, leaving the team’s middle order to rise to the challenge.

In Nicholas Pooran and Maxwell, Kings XI had the firepower to take the attack to the opposition. Pooran showed intent, but Maxwell struggled. The asking rate was steadily climbing and once James Pattinson dismissed Pooran in the 14th over and Chahar put Maxwell out of his misery, only the formalities remained.

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