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Saturday, May 15, 2021

Punjab Kings back to winning ways as Rohit Sharma & Co falter once again

KL Rahul, Chris Gayle take Punjab Kings home after bowlers apply the choke on Mumbai Indians.

Written by Vishal Menon |
Updated: April 24, 2021 8:57:49 am
Punjab Kings skipper KL Rahul in action against Mumbai Indians in IPL 2021. (IPL)

Mumbai Indians have successfully defended moderate totals a few times this season. They won against Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad, defending 152 and 150 respectively. On Friday too, their bowlers tried their best to make a match of it. But 131/6 proved to be grossly insufficient as Punjab Kings captain KL Rahul and Chris Gayle put on an unbeaten 79-run second-wicket partnership to see them through to a morale-boosting 9-wicket win with 14 balls to spare.

Rahul, Gayle take Punjab home

At one point on Friday evening, it looked like an eerily familiar script was playing out at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Punjab Kings, in pursuit of a middling 132-run target, were off to an assured start, churning out 53 runs for the loss of opener Mayank Agarwal in 7.2 overs. But then came the strangle in the middle overs, with Mumbai’s spinners Rahul Chahar and Jayant Yadav applying the brakes. Runs came in a trickle with Rahul and Gayle struggling to provide the impetus. Was another implosion on the cards? Kolkata Knight Riders and Sunrisers Hyderabad threw away games against Mumbai they should have won.

Sensibly, Punjab kept their wickets intact. A boundary by Gayle down the leg-side against Chahar eased the pressure. He then tore into Yadav for a brace of boundaries and a humongous six that soared into the top tier. Rahul, at the other end, kept rotating strike with a common-sense approach. Despite struggling with his timing for the better part of the innings, the Punjab Kings captain brought up a run-a-ball fifty that helped his team past the finish line.

Bowlers apply the choke on MI

Batting in Chennai has been a treacherous proposition. The pitch is sluggish and two-paced. Resultantly, stroke-play can be arduous, and batsmen never really have the measure of the conditions. Mumbai Indians were off to a lacklustre start, meandering to 21/1 after 6 overs — their second-lowest total in the powerplay in the IPL. It was captain Rohit Sharma who played the anchor’s role to a nicety, utilising his experience to find a way bat on this surface. Without his 52-ball 63, and Suryakumar Yadav’s effervescent 27-ball 33, the defending champions would have struggled to get past the three-figure score.

Credit should be given to Rahul for marshalling his bowling resources admirably. He used Moises Henriques and Deepak Hooda, who applied the choke upfront. Even during Mumbai’s mini resurrection — a 79-run third-wicket partnership between Rohit and Suryakumar — Punjab’s bowlers held their nerve. Through Ravi Bishnoi, Mohammed Shami and Arshdeep Singh, they prised through Mumbai’s middle order, restricting them to 34/4 in the final five overs.

Brief Scores: Mumbai Indians 131/6 (Rohit Sharma 63 off 52 deliveries, 5×4, 2×6; Suryakumar Yadav 33 off 27 deliveries, 3×4, 1×6; Ravi Bishnoi 2/21, 10 dots) lost to Punjab Kings 132/1 in 17.4 overs (KL Rahul 60 not out off 52 deliveries, 3×4, 3×6, Chris Gayle 43 not out off 35 balls, 5×4, 2×6; Rahul Chahar 1/18; 8 dots) by 9 wickets

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