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Stoinis leads clinical demolition of Mumbai

Wisden India logo Wisden India 13-05-2016

Home really is where the heart lies for Mumbai Indians. They can pretend all they want that Visakhapatnam is where they now belong, but it shall never quite be so. They lost their second match at the ACA-VDCA Stadium on Friday (May 13), this time against Kings XI Punjab, who ensured they were no longer table laggards as they moved to seventh spot with a seven-wicket victory. Mumbai, meanwhile, conceded ground in the battle for the playoffs as it all became quite intriguing in the 2016 Indian Premier League.

Rohit Sharma opted to bat, perhaps keen to avoid a repeat of their previous match here when they were bowled out by Sunrisers Hyderabad for 92. He reasoned that the wicket would only get slower as the game progressed, giving them the advantage over Punjab. But that can only happen if you put up a decent total.

Led by Marcus Stoinis’s 4 for 15, Punjab restricted Mumbai to 124 for 9. M Vijay (54 not out in 52) and Wriddhiman Saha (56 in 40) then showed calm heads, chasing down the target in 17 overs.

The day began with Rohit flicking Sandeep Sharma to the fine-leg fence, but there couldn’t have been a more inaccurate indicator of things to come. Unmukt Chand, brought in for the out-of-form Parthiv Patel, chipped Mohit Sharma tamely to midwicket, and Sandeep followed that up in the next over with an inswinger that went through Ambati Rayudu. Both were dismissed for ducks.

The run-rate went down. Punjab have been expensive in Power Plays this season, but after the first six overs, Mumbai had just 21 on board. They looked to recover with Nitish Rana clubbing a biggie every now and then, but Rohit’s dismissal in the ninth over, when Axar Patel slipped one under him, was a gigantic blow. Rana did show his value to the side, rotating strike when not putting the ball away, but his resistance ended when he became Stoinis’s first victim, caught behind for a 28-ball 25.

Stoinis was pumped up. He greeted Kieron Pollard with a bouncer that rebounded off the batsman’s chest. He then had Jos Buttler holing out, Gurkeerat Singh Mann taking one of those increasingly common boundary rider catches.

Mumbai had a mini-recovery when Pollard and Krunal Pandya got together and unleashed the big hits. Pollard weighed in to KC Cariappa in an immense show of power to take 17 runs off the 15th over. Pandya then got into the act off Axar, and when even Pollard’s mistimed drive ended up over the fence, it seemed Mumbai were headed for a recovery.

However, Stoinis returned to put a stop to those hopes. He dismissed both batsmen in consecutive deliveries. Pandya holed out before Pollard was cleaned up with a fuller one, and it ensured Punjab’s professional performance with the ball wasn’t marred.

The batsmen did their bit too. A chase as tiny as this seemed right up Hashim Amla’s alley, something suiting his calm demeanour. However, Tim Southee had him trapped plumb in front for zero in the very first over. Unfortunately for Mumbai, that was the last bit of cheer they had.

Vijay and Saha rotated strike beautifully, and their running was something Mumbai, in retrospect, would have dearly loved to emulate. Both batsmen put away the bad deliveries, but kept around the run-a-ball mark. Mumbai rarely threatened, and once they were suitably sure of themselves, Vijay and Saha let rip too, the focus now to boost the net run-rate.

The late enterprise caused Saha to drag Mitchell McClenaghan on to the stumps, and Glenn Maxwell lasted just one legal delivery before Gurkeerat came on to seal the victory in style, a loft for four through long-on putting Mumbai out of their misery for the night.

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