Jaipur: It was the last match in the league phase of Indian Premier League 2012 and the first one without any bearing on the final standings. Although inconsequential, Mumbai Indians' 10-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals would have upped their confidence considerably before they head into their eliminator against Chennai Super Kings.
Mumbai's biggest cause for concern this year has been the poor opening stands they have had despite trying a variety of combinations. (Related read: Bhajji says Mumbai still looking at opening options)
Perhaps the fact that it was a dead rubber, prompted them to go in with a somewhat surprising pairing in Dwayne Smith and Sachin Tendulkar. Whatever the logic behind the decision however, it paid off handsomely as Mumbai chased down the target of 163 with two overs to spare. (Related read: Statistical highlights from Jaipur)
Both openers at the start of the chase, looked distinctly uncomfortable. Smith was batting in an unfamiliar position while Tendulkar wasn't fluent. (Also see: Match in pics)
Through a combination of luck and largesse on the part of Rajasthan's bowlers however, the run-rate remained healthy. Both batsmen played a number of mistimed shots that either fell just short of the fielders or narrowly cleared them. When a mistimed top-edge was caught by Siddharth Trivedi off his own bowling, the umpire found the bowler guilty of over-stepping. The Rajasthan bowlers also bowled a whopping 14 wides to help Mumbai along.
With luck on their side, the batsmen settled into their rhythm. Smith unleashed some of his trademark high-impact shots on his way to an unbeaten 87 off 58 balls. Tendulkar at the other end, was comparatively sedate in his 51-ball 58 not out. Together, the two put on 163, the highest in IPL history.
Earlier, in sharp contrast, Rajasthan's opening combination of Rahul Dravid and Ajinkya Rahane fell within the power-play overs to leave Rajasthan tottering at 31 for two. Both fell to Dhawal Kulkarni, playing his first game in the tournament in place of Munaf Patel. Kulkarni later dismissed Ashok Menaria to return impressive figures of three for 18.
Rajasthan did manage to put up a competitive total thanks to contributions from the middle order. All the batsmen got a start, but no one kicked on to get a big score. Shane Watson's 45 off 36 was the highest in Rajasthan's 162 for six.