Rohit Sharma and Krunal Pandya delivered in desperate times as Mumbai Indians stayed alive in the IPL with a tense six-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab on Friday. Captain Rohit (24* off 15) and Krunal (31* off 12) shared a match-winning 56-run stand off just 21 balls as Mumbai Indians reached the 175-run target in 19 overs. The three-time champions needed 75 runs off the last seven overs but eventually got over the line rather comfortably. Mumbai's thrilling chase came after the heroics of Chris Gayle, who continued his explosive run in the IPL with a 50 off 40 balls to propel Kings XI Punjab to 174 for six. The much-needed victory pushed Mumbai up to fifth from the bottom position in the points table while KXIP remained in the fourth spot with five wins from eight games. Mumbai, who have now won three out of their nine games, are tied on six points with RCB, Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals.
Suryakumar Yadav (57 off 52) too made a significant contribution in the successful chase while Hardik (23 off 13) came up with a timely cameo before Rohit and Krunal got the job done.
Earlier, Gayle collected just one run off the first eight balls he faced before racing to his half-century, his fourth fifty-plus score in five innings of the IPL so far. Gayle and Lokesh Rahul (24 off 20) gave KXIP another cracking start as the destructive duo shared a 54-run stand off 40 balls.
Rahul too was in sublime touch and looked set for a big score. He got the innings a move on with a couple of lofted cover drives that went all the way into the stands.
At the other end, Gayle got going by smashing Pandya for three fours in the fourth over. The 38-year-old was on song, having got a much needed week's break in an otherwise hectic tournament.
Two overs later, Gayle pulled a short ball off Mitchel McClenaghan out of the Holkar Stadium. Mumbai Indians heaved a sigh of relief when the big-hitting could not go past the 50-run mark.
Yuvraj Singh (14 off 14) made a disappointing comeback after being dropped in the previous game. This time the luck was also not on Yuvraj's side he got run out after a mix-up with Karun Nair (23 off 12). The stylish southpaw is yet to cross the 20-run mark in the tournament.
The home team was well-placed to post a big total after being 78 for one in 10 overs.
However, KXIP lost their way in the middle overs with Nair and Axar Patel (13 off 12) getting out after promising starts.
Jasprit Bumrah and Co were able to tighten things up. Bumrah especially was brilliant conceding just 19 runs in four overs.
If it was not for Marcus Stoinis, KXIP would have ended up way short of the expected mark. His unbeaten 15-ball 29 ensured his team reached close to 180.
The 22-run last over from Pandya made all the difference with Stoinis smashing him for two sixes and as many fours.