An inspired bowling effort at the death from the Rising Pune Supergiant denied the table-topping Mumbai Indians a seventh-straight victory.
The Rising Pune Supergiant won the opening match of the IPL season in the reverse fixture, but going into this match at the Wankhede stadium on Monday evening, the Mumbai Indians had been on a warpath with six wins in a row. With five of those wins coming from chasing, they were heavily fancied to extend their lead at the top of the standings, but RPS managed to pull off a last-gasp victory to do the double over them.
A third victory in a row for the Pune side allowed them to move up to fourth on the standings, with four wins and three defeats to their name. Despite losing, the Mumbai Indians still have a two-point lead over the Kolkata Knight Riders.
When Kieron Pollard departed in the 17th over, 39 runs were needed for Mumbai off 23 balls and the required run rate escalated to as high as 12 an over with two overs remaining. This proved all too much, despite the striking ability of Rohit Sharma, with Ben Stokes conceding only seven runs off the penultimate over.
The visitors got off to an excellent start with the bat, despite losing the toss. Ajinkya Rahane and Rahul Tripathi produced a collection of exquisite boundaries to put together 76 off 9.3 overs, before Karn Sharma (2-39) saw Rahane off for 38.
Sharma, only in as a replacement for the injured Krunal Pandya, then saw off Tripathi for 45, and should have had skipper Steve Smith the very next delivery if it weren’t for Harbhajan Singh dropping a sitter in the deep.
Harbhajan (1-20) made sure it wasn’t too costly as Smith was bowled for 17, before veteran Australian paceman Mitchell Johnson (1-34) got the better of Ashes rival Ben Stokes for another 17. Manoj Tiwary produced a cameo of 22, but RPS could only scrape together 40 runs off the last five overs, as some good death bowling from Jasprit Bumrah (2-29) ensured Mumbai would only need to chase 161.
The hosts’ chances of winning was always in doubt as regular top-order wickets fell. Jos Buttler was caught in the deep, which resulted in a wicket maiden to countryman Stokes, before Nitish Rana, one of the emerging talents of the tournament so far, wasted nine balls for his three runs as Dan Christian forced a mistimed shot.
Parthiv Patel tried to keep things together at the top, but his 33 runs came at a costly 27 balls, leaving the middle-lower order to pick up the pieces. This, thanks to a disciplined bowling effort from the likes of spinner Washington Sundar and Stokes, who yielded respective figures of 1-26 and 2-21.
Skipper Sharma, who began the tournament with scores of 3, 2, 4 and 0, has returned to form and became his side’s only chance of pulling off another victory. He struck three sixes and six fours for his 58 off 39 deliveries, but with 17 runs required off the final over, it all proved too much, and he skied one with three balls remaining.
Proteas leg-spinner Imran Tahir (1-32) had his say with the wicket of Pollard for 11, just as the crowd were expecting the West Indian to go large, contributing to the three-run victory.
Photo: Deepak Malik/IPL/Cricinfo