Pollard-less Mumbai bowl, CSK unchanged

Toss Mumbai Indians elected to bowl v Chennai Super Kings. Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma’s decision to bowl at the toss seemed lot easier than the one he had to make off the field. West Indies allrounder and IPL stalwart Kieron Pollard was dropped following scores of 28, 0, 5, 21* and 9 in the season so far. Bangladesh left-arm fast bowler Mustafizur Rahman was also dropped, to make room for allrounder Ben Cutting as Mumbai look to overturn their record of one win in six matches. JP Duminy, bought at the auction for his base price of INR 1 crore, was slotted in for his first game this season. MS Dhoni said that Chennai Super Kings were looking to bowl first as well, for the same reason that Rohit elected to bowl – the trust that this pitch won’t change over 40 overs. His team was unchanged.

Chennai Super Kings: 1 Shane Watson, 2 Ambati Rayudu, 3 Suresh Raina, 4 MS Dhoni (capt & wk), 5 Sam Billings, 6 Ravindra Jadeja, 7 Dwayne Bravo, 8 Harbhajan Singh, 9 Deepak Chahar, 10 Shardul Thakur, 11 Imran Tahir.
Mumbai Indians: 1 Suryakumar Yadav, 2 Evin Lewis, 3 Ishan Kishan (wk), 4 Rohit Sharma (capt), 5 Krunal Pandya, 6 JP Duminy, 7 Hardik Pandya, 8 Ben Cutting 9 Mitchell McClenaghan, 10 Mayank Markande, 11 Jasprit Bumrah.

Mumbai Indians 170 for 2 (Rohit 56*, Lewis 47) beat Chennai Super Kings 169 for 5 (Raina 75*, Rayudu 46, McClenaghan 2-26) by eight wickets. Mumbai Indians captain Rohit Sharma promoted himself to No. 3 to guide his team to a comfortably finished eight-wicket win against Chennai Super Kings, after walking in with a required rate of ten per over on a two-paced pitch. Rohit pieced together a well-paced unbeaten half-century where he first took the pressure off a struggling Evin Lewis and then spearheaded the completion in Hardik Pandya’s company. Earlier in the game, Mumbai had fought back from an expensive start at the hands of the tournament-leader for runs, Ambati Rayudu, and Suresh Raina, who had set Super Kings up for a massive total at 91 for 1 in ten overs. The innings had then spiralled downwards and even a late flourish from Raina, who was unbeaten on 75, couldn’t get them enough on the evening.

Mumbai had persisted with more or less the same team for each of their six games before Saturday. When they did decide to make changes, it didn’t seem like too much would change. There was a good chance that the replacements – JP Duminy for Kieron Pollard and Ben Cutting for Mustafizur Rahman – wouldn’t have prominent roles to play if a successful top order remained as it was. It was doubly true for Cutting, who, despite replacing a specialist bowler, bowled only one over. Super Kings batsmen Rayudu and Raina took him for fourteen in that and it was the over when they completed fifty runs for the second wicket.

Shane Watson had fallen to Pawan Negi in the first over against Royal Challengers on Wednesday. Mumbai waited till the fifth over to bring on their left-arm spinner, but Krunal Pandya’s introduction worked immediately as he induced a slice from Watson on the slog sweep. Before that, there was bounce early on that Jasprit Bumrah used to subdue Rayudu. He was replaced by Hardik Pandya from that end, perhaps in a bid to preserve him for MS Dhoni and Dwayne Bravo later in the innings. Before the game, Hardik had gone at an economy of 10.4 in Powerplays in the IPL and gave a boundary every 3 balls. In the absence of Mustafizur, it looked like he was doing much better than par. But Rayudu made 10 off his last two balls of the Powerplay and suddenly Super Kings had another good first-six with 51 on the board.

Raina looked more fluent than he has all season at the other end, after kickstarting his innings with a slog over deep midwicket off his second ball. Mumbai went with the short ball against him. At one point, they had short third man, gully, and backward point in place but the lines weren’t right. Raina had two boundaries past short fine, and made a comfortable six runs off three balls square on the off side. The rest of the time, he monopolised his favoured areas on the leg side, making 38 of his 75 at long-on and deep midwicket. However, he seemed to lose his way. His scoring rate through the middle-overs fell to 138 after the high of 182 at the end of the tenth over. This struggle coincided with a slow overall pace from the Super Kings through that period, before McClenaghan culled a big end with the wickets of Dhoni and Bravo in the space of three balls. Having been 91 for 1 at the end of ten overs, Super Kings finished with 169 for 5. Bumrah and McClenaghan conceded only 51 between them in eight overs.

Evin Lewis was dismissed for a duck by Deepak Chahar when these teams last played, but he only faced on ball from him on the night. Any prospect of further exposure against the seamer was avoided when the bowler walked off with an injury in the fifth over. Still, the opener struggled, even as partner Suryakumar Yadav continued to put his rich form to use. When their lopsided opening stand of 69 ended through a brilliant take from Ravindra Jadeja at deep midwicket, Lewis was on 21 off 26. Although a couple of swats against Imran Tahir got his scoring rate up, Lewis’ stay was a troubled one. It was balanced for by Rohit, whose innings was built upon a few key moments. His one-handed six at long-off, off Watson’s first ball in the 14th over, was the beginning of the phase where the required rate fell below nine. A couple of balls later, he showed that he would control the rest of the chase, getting down to scoop a full ball over fine leg for another six.

All of his boundaries from that point onwards showed a tremendous awareness of the field. A pull over square leg off Bravo, a lofted drive against Watson in the 18th set up for the big 19th over, with Mumbai needing 22 off 12. At this juncture, Dhoni chose to change Bravo, whose 17th had gone for five, and handed the ball to Shardul Thakur. The bowler nailed only one yorker in that over, the one that got Rohit back on strike. His attempted yorkers then flew over point, two went over square leg and a the change-up length ball was expertly dabbed between short third man and point. With that 17-run over, during which he brought up his fifty, Rohit made sure Mumbai didn’t finish the weekend at the bottom of the table.