In a battle of good bowling attacks making use of a spicy pitch at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium in Jaipur, Mumbai Indians emerged triumphant over Highveld Lions by seven wickets, with nine balls to spare, to keep their Champions League Twenty20 2013 hopes alive on Friday (September 27). (Match Scorecard | Highlights)
Chasing the Lions' 140 for 5, Mumbai were taken home in 18.3 overs by Dwayne Smith's 63 not out off 47, the standout innings of a match in which bowlers dictated terms for large parts. The win took Mumbai to six points in Group A, the same number as Otago Volts (who were ahead on Net Run Rate) and behind only Rajasthan Royals. (Match in pics)
Mumbai had retained the same XI that did duty against Rajasthan Royals, but the bowling attack was much more switched on than they had been earlier, in contrast with one of the floodlights in the stadium whose failure caused a 22-minute delay in play in the first over. Almost every bowler did his job well, starting from Mitchell Johnson's shock-and-awe pace to Rishi Dhawan's consistent length and appreciable movement.
For more than half their innings, the Lions were not allowed to build a partnership. Johnson, who worked up considerable speed, bowled a quick bouncer to Rassie van der Dussen, with the batsman late on his intended pull shot finding Dhawan at square-leg.
Quinton de Kock fell soon after, trapped in front by Harbhajan Singh, and the Lions found themselves 41 or 2 in the seventh over. The run-rate was barely hovering above six despite some sweetly timed shots from both openers because Mumbai bowled enough dot balls in between to never let the pressure release.
Dhawan, bowling a more conventional length than the fuller one Johnson and Nathan Coulter-Nile had, was impressive from his first over, a maiden. He got the ball to move, frequently beating the batsmen, and had his reward with the big wicket of the returning Neil McKenzie, bowled by one that came back in.
Pragyan Ojha then got into the act with two wickets, earning the first and being gifted the second. Jean Symes tried to slog each of Ojha's first three deliveries over cow corner, and Ojha, wise to the ploy, pushed his third ball through quicker to beat the batsman and find the stumps. Two overs later, Sohail Tanvir picked out the man at deep midwicket off a long hop that he could have deposited anywhere.
At 81 for 5 in 13.2 overs, the Lions were struggling, but Alviro Petersen, the captain, and Dwaine Pretorius ensured a respectable total with an unbroken 59-run stand marked by inventive strokeplay.
When Mumbai's chase began, Smith showed early ominous signs with a powerful six off Tanvir in the second over, and then launched into Lonwabo Tsotsobe after a brief lull, hitting him for two consecutive sixes in the seventh over. Tanvir had castled Sachin Tendulkar with a slower yorker early, and Dinesh Karthik's jerky innings ended in the eight over, but at 47 for 2 in eight overs, Mumbai didn't need to panic.
Rohit Sharma and Smith associated in a 43-run stand that was punctuated by a prolonged wrestling-style stare-down with Hardus Viljoen. Perhaps the war of words affected Sharma's concentration, and he fell a few balls later, leaving Mumbai 90 for 3, needing 51 to win off 44 balls.
In the meantime Smith had reached his half-century off just 33 balls, with timely pressure-relieving boundaries punctuating his knock. As long as he was there, Mumbai were in the driver's seat.
As it turned out, most of the end-overs heavy hitting was done by Kieron Pollard, Smith's West Indies team-mate, who had a sequence of three sixes and a four in six balls faced as Mumbai made light of the chase, getting home with enough to spare for a net run-rate boost as well.