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Rana steers clinical Mumbai to the top

Wisden India logo Wisden India 16-04-2017
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Nitish Rana and Kieron Pollard continued their rich vein of form before Rohit Sharma provided the finishing touches to muscle hosts Mumbai Indians to a six-wicket win over Gujarat Lions and to the top of the IPL 10 table at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday (April 16).

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Put in, Brendon McCullum smacked a 44-ball 64 to get Gujarat off to a decent start before a late blitz from Dinesh Karthik (48* off 26) carried them to 176 for 4. In reply, Rana’s 36-ball 53 — which took him to the top of the Orange Cap standings — along with vital cameos from Pollard (39) and Rohit (40*) powered Mumbai to 177 for 4 in 19.3 overs.

Having found his rhythm in the last game against Royal Challengers Bangalore, Mitchell McClenaghan (2 for 24), the left-arm pacer, got rid of Dwayne Smith, the dangerous opening batsman, off the very second delivery of the match. Smith who scored a blistering 47 in the previous game against Rising Pune Supergiant, looked to stamp his authority straightway but instead slapped a wide delivery straight to Rana to give Mumbai an early breakthrough. It was the 25th time the Barbadian had failed to open his account, the most by any batsman in this format.

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McCullum then was joined by Suresh Raina, and the two found it extremely difficult to get going on a two-paced track. Having finally got a measure of the pitch, McCullum teed off in the last over of the Power Play. He first carved Lasith Malinga, who replaced Tim Southee in the playing XI, over point for a gorgeous six before muscling him over deep midwicket as the Sri Lankan pacer conceded 27 in his first two overs.

While Raina was more sedate, McCullum found the occasional boundary. In the process, he brought up his fourth fifty against Mumbai and his 12th overall. Harbhajan Singh (1 for 22), who has been economical this season, celebrated Easter in style by dismissing ‘bunny’ Raina for the fifth time in the IPL. The left-hand batsman could only manage 28 runs off 29 deliveries before perishing in the 11th over.

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In order to keep the left hand-right combination going, Gujarat promoted Ishan Kishan ahead of Jason Roy at No. 4, but the move backfired. The attacking Jharkhand batsman failed to replicate his domestic performances, ending up scoring a 14-ball 11.

McCullum by now was in attack more. The swashbuckling former New Zealand batsman got it right on a few occasions before being knocked over by Malinga in the 13th over. During his stay, McCullum smoked six boundaries and three sixes to strike at an impressive rate of 147.73. McCullum’s scalp was the lone bright spot for Malinga, who finished with expensive figures of 1 for 51.

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Gujarat got the much-required boost in the form of Karthik, who has been in tremendous form this season. The wicketkeeper-batsman went after Jasprit Bumrah (0 for 45) and Hardik Pandya to help Gujarat collect 50 runs in the last four overs. Roy, who replaced Aaron Finch, smashed an unbeaten 7-ball 14 from No. 6. Interestingly, Finch had to sit out because his kit bag didn’t arrive from Rajkot.

Just like Gujarat, Mumbai lost Parthiv Patel (0) to the second ball of the first over, from Praveen Kumar. Parthiv was also caught at point, but off the leading edge as he tried to work an outswinger to leg.

Rana, coming in at No. 3, joined Jos Buttler, and the two straightaway took the attack to the bowlers. Dropped by Roy at midwicket on 9, Rana pounced on the opportunity and lofted Basil Thampi over extra-cover for six to add insult to injury. The left-hand batsman went played with intelligence as he brought up his second fifty of the season.

Just when it looked like Rana would take the game away from Gujarat, a knuckle ball from Andrew Tye ended an innings which was studded with four boundaries and a couple of sixes. Buttler (26) followed soon, falling to Munaf Patel who was playing his first IPL match since 2013.

Rohit, who came into this game with nine runs from four innings, and the in-form Pollard, who scored a match-winning 70 in Bangalore two nights back, steadied the ship. The Trinidadian started with a couple of sixes off the medium pacers before launching Tye down the ground for a flat six. Rohit, in the meanwhile, kept the strike ticking over.

With 23 required runs required in the last three overs, Thampi delivered a tidy over, giving away just six singles to bring the equation down to 17 off 12. The pressure soon got to Pollard, who ballooned a simple catch to Ravindra Jadeja at deep midwicket. In his 23-ball 39, the big man struck two boundaries and three sixes.

Rohit’s cheeky dab to the fine third-man fence off the first delivery of the final over from Praveen with eight needed as good as sealed the issue, and Mumbai cantered home with three balls to spare for their fourth consecutive victory.

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