Mumbai too good for Pune; Chennai remain Kings among Royals

05 May 2011 by Raj in IPL 2011

Mumbai Indians 160 for 7 beat Pune Warriors 139 for 7 by 21 runs

Man of the match: Rahul Sharma

The battle of the neighbours Pune Warriors and Mumbai Indians once again proved to be the story of one between a big brother and a small brother. Mumbai maintained their ascendancy, reclaiming their position at the top of the table, while Pune continued to remain at the bottom, with their seventh loss in a  row, the latest coming at the DY Patil Stadium, which means they are all but out of the tournament now. Even if they win all their remaining league games, which in itself will be a miraculous achievement, it might not be enough for them to qualify for the final four.

Mumbai win was built around two men who saw to it that their side ended up with a highly competitive total which, at one stage, seemed would be a below par one. T Suman and Kieron Pollard, who haven’t had much to do with the bat in this IPL so for, put their hands together on this occasion. Their blitzkrieg undid the excellent effort of the Pune spinners.Yuvraj Singh, who for some reason hasn’t bowled much in this tournament got the big breaks, dismissing Sachin Tendulkar and Ambati Rayudu in his spell. Leg spinner Rahul Sharma was even more impressive. Not only did he pick up a couple of wickets, but gave away as little as seven runs in his four overs, even for him to earn the man of the match award in spite of the teams loss.

Due to the efforts of Yuvraj and Sharma, Mumbai weren’t in a great position at 114 for 5 with five overs to spare. This is where Suman and Pollard stepped up a gear. They were aided by the fact that Alfonso Thomas sprayed it all over the place, and before Pune could realise, Mumbai had lifted themselves bak into a comfortable position. Earlier, Mumbai had cruised past 50 at the top of the innings before the spinners came in. Yuvraj made the major breakthrough when he got a well set Tendulkar to chip one to short extra cover. The runs soon dried up and, in an effort to clear the fence, Rayudu too perished to Yuvraj.

In a surprising move, Suman was sent ahead of the big hitting and so was Pollard, and both the tactics worked in the home side’s favour.Suman entered with an aggressive mindset and transformed it into two big sixes. Sharma kept Pune in the game by getting rid of Rohit Sharma and Suman in his second spell. However, by then Suman had already caused some damage and Pollard only added salt into the wounds for Pune. The big hitting West Indian slammed Thomas as hard as he could Mumbai amassed 27 runs in the penultimate over of the innings, and had the momentum going into the break.

To make matters worse, Pune got off to the worst possible start. Jesse Ryder chipped the first ball of the innings straight into the hands of backward point. Former Proteas skipper Graeme Smith’s poor run was extended as he fell cheaply. Manish Pandey did get some runs but he was far from fluent and, unlike Mumbai, Pune’s decision to promote Abhishek Jhunjhunwala did not work as the match meandered towards the predictable finish

The problem for Pune was that they never got any momentum going from the very start. As a result they were always playing catch up. And even Yuvraj Singh and Robin Uthappa couldn’t do much after that. Even as Sourav Ganguly has been brought in as a replacement Ashish Nehra, one wonder whether it is all too late for the Pune Warriors.

 

Chennai Super Kings 149 for 2 beat Rajasthan Royals 147 for 6 by eight wickets

Man of the match: Mike Hussey

Even as Mumbai Indians made light work of Pune Warriors, Chennai Super Kings reiterated that they are on par with Sachin Tendulkar’s men, coasting to their fourth win in a row in the game against Rajasthan Royals. The conditions were tough and Chennai found it tougher at the beginning of the innings when Rahul Dravid and Shane Watson got the Royals off to a magnificent start. However, Chennai fought back in their trademark style with the ball, and when it was their turn to bat, they just crushed the Royals’ challenge with the slightest of problems during the course of the chase. If Dravid was method combined with cheekiness, Suresh Raina and Michael Hussey just went about their task in an unfussy manner and eventually coast to victory.

For starters though the Dravid and Watson were exceptional, opening the innings. Apart from picking the boundaries at will, they did most other things right as well. The duo was quick between the 22 yards, picking up important singles and ran their twos hard as well. All this was before Dravid, uncharacteristically but successfully took on the spinners. Dravid hammered R. Ashwin for a couple boundaries to midwicket in one of his expensive overs, then collected three fours off Suraj Randiv’s bowling, all hit in different directions as even Watson seemed to be enjoying the Dravid’s T20ised game. He even drove Shadab Jakati with finesse as Rajasthan cruised to 86 without loss after 10 overs.

From that point, they should have easily crossed 160. But, Chennai fought back like Super Kings. Jakati pulled off a superb return catch offered by Watson in the 11th over. Somehow, despite having nine wickets in hand, the Royals could not capitalise on the excellent start. Wickets kept tumbling at frequent intervals as the Royals lost the plot. Ashok Menaria gifted away his wicket to Ashwin, while Johan Botha fell trying to get after Jakati. All hopes rested on Dravid, but with the Chennai heat taking its toll he too perished after a well made 66. There was nothing much from the other big names either. Ross Taylor did manage a couple of boundaries, but Albie Morkel picked up a couple of wickets to slow down the rate again. Rajasthan only managed to score at 6 an over in their second half of the innings as Chennai clearly held the upper hand.

The Royals did get off to a good start with the ball, getting Murali Vijay early, but they had an off day in the field, which allowed to release the pressure on Chennai. Raina and Hussey the joined forces to outdo Rajasthan’s chances in a mature alliance that all but saw them through to victory. Raina was lucky when Watson dropped a difficult chance, and there wasn’t much joy for the Royals thereafter.

Rajasthan’s bowling was off track, just like Chennai’s in the first half. Siddharth Trivedi maintained a leg side length and was punished accordingly. With the run rate manageable, Raina and Hussey maneuvered Watson and Botha around. However, when left-arm spinner Nayan Doshi was induced into the attack, he was deposited for two sixes and the floodgates had opened. Stuart Binny, who had a bad day in the field, added to his misery by bowling tripe. It seemed Chennai would cruise home by nine wickets, but Raina fell just before the finish line. It was too late for any hiccups through as Hussey eased Chennai into victory.

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