Mumbai Indians feared it. All they need was to carry on with the momentum. The most dominant team in the league stages faced competition from only one side – Rising Pune Supergiant – the only team to have beaten them in the league stages, not once but on all two occasions. And, as fate would have it, their biggest nemesis also made itself eligible for a clash in the qualifiers.
The match was keenly looked forward to. Mumbai Indians felt they could break the jinx this time. Why wouldn’t they think so? After all, it was their fortress; a venue where they had scripted wins in previous two playoffs fixtures they played here.
On Tuesday, however, was meant to be different, as Rising Pune Supergiant continued their dream run this season and also their dominance over the star-studded Mumbai Indians, defeating them by 20 runs to head straight into the finals in Hyderabad on May 21.
Rohit Sharma chose to stick with his biggest strength – chasing; while Steve Smith decided to rely on his advantage, his bowling attack. Unfortunately, Rohit’s bet failed and Smith had things fall in line for him. Despite having his A-team back, MI wasn’t able to suppress the opposition, as RPS benefitted from the collective performances shown by their men.
Batting first on a two-paced wicket, RPS survived the early jolts from Mitchell McClenaghan and Lasith Malinga, to end at a commendable 162/4 in 20 overs. The first couple of overs at the start were a bit bothersome for the visitors.
Rahul Tripathi, the revelation of the season, was castled by McClenaghan off the final delivery in the opening over. Malinga followed it up with Steven Smith’s wicket five balls later, leaving RPS at 9/2.
Recovery, soon, was staged, as Ajinkya Rahane and Manoj Tiwary took the responsibility as they forged 90 runs for the 3rd wicket. This stand laid a nice platform for MS Dhoni to enter and demolish the opposition in his typical fashion.
Rahane and Tiwary had their tough times. The ball held up clean hitting seemed very, very tough. The introduction of spin made things tougher, as there was no pace to play with. Shot making at sometimes looked so tough that the pair managed just three off ten balls just after the end of the powerplays.
Therefore, the duo chose to do the right thing and most resorted to running between the wickets and waiting for the bowler to commit errors so as to gather boundaries, which fortunately kept coming at regular intervals.
Ms Dhoni came in at the right time, in the 13th over, after Karn Sharma git rid of Rahane to end the stand. The platform was set for the former skipper and he launched himself as the end overs approached. He, too, had his share problem batting on this wicket, but Dhoni could not be stopped, as he added 40 runs off just 26 deliveries with the help of four fours and two sixes.
Barring the swift start provided by the opening pair of Parthiv Patel and Lendl Simmons, the chase was never on track. The slide began after Shardul Thakur luckily managed to get his finger on a straight drive from Patel that sent the ball directly on the stumps at the non-striker’s end. Simmons found himself out of the crease and had no time to even make an attempt.
From that exact moment, the match virtually ended for Mumbai. They kept plunging deeper and deeper with no hope of any comeback, The hole was dug up by off-spinner Washington Sundar, the Tamil Nadu ‘flat-jack’ who was so far used as a breaker to stop the opposition from flourishing. His off-breaks worked and he returned with 3/16 in his four overs quota picking up Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard as his victims.
The first two surrendered to him in the space of four deliveries in the sixth over of the match while Pollard was removed off the final delivery in 8th over. This huge dents made the difference and the deciding factor. The end came swiftly.
Only Parthiv Patel could show some resilience. But, his lone efforts could have never won the game for his team.
Rising Pune Supergiant: 162/4 (Manoj Tiwary 58; Lasith Malinga 1/14)
Mumbai Indians: 142/9 (Parthiv Patel 52; Washington Sundar 3/16)