Mumbai thrash Rajasthan to keep playoffs hopes alive
In a potential knockout, Mumbai emerged victorious by a comfortable margin of 8 wickets with 58 balls to spare.
By Vadiraj Kanakagiri
If someone calls this a match, they're wrong. It was a complete mismatch. The dominance from Mumbai was to that level, that no one in his right mind would believe that these two teams were equal in points in the points table, after watching this match.
Of many things that Rohit did right in the game, winning the toss was the first. He chose to bowl, keeping in mind the net run rate. The two southpaws, Yashasvi Jaiswal and Evin Lewis gave Rajasthan a brisk start with the bat. It was easy to bat on when the ball was hard and new and the pitch was fresh. Nathan Coulter-Nile came into the attack in the fourth innings and changed the total complexion of the game from then on, forever. He removed Jaiswal, who tried to guide one to third man, inducing an edge through to Kishan.
In the sixth over of the innings, when Lewis was trapped plumb in front by Jasprit Bumrah, by a good length delivery, that kept a bit low for Lewis's and Rajasthan's liking, a bell of humiliation just rang in the Royals camp. In the very next over, when Sanju Samson square drove one straight to point off Neesham, the bell sounded harder. These two wickets broke the backbone of the Royals batting lineup. The lack of bounce on the delivery to Lewis though, put a lot of doubts into the minds of the Royals batters and sent shivers down to an already fragile batting lineup of the Royals.
What followed next was an extreme struggle with the bat. Not just to score runs. But to even defend balls. The pitch looked like it took a mighty big turn, for the worse. Or, at least, the Royals batters made it look like such. Glenn Phillips was the next scalp for Coulter Nile, who played a pull shot to a good length delivery that bounced like a half volley. Dube inside-edged one onto his stumps off Neesham. David Miller and Rahul Tewatia join at the crease and decided to dead bat everything. Boundaries seemed to be a far cry. The fact that there wasn't even an effort from the pair for many ones to try to hit one, showed what kind of impact the deliveries that got the earlier wickets had on these two.
Sensing the lack of pace in the wicket, Rohit even had Pollard bowl a couple of overs, denying the batsman any pace to work with. He didn't let Jayant Yadav finish his quota, as it didn't turn much, and also it was easy to score off-spin. After holding himself back against the aggressive options and trudging along to 12 of 19 deliveries, Tewatia got out to the one real show of intent he made in the entirety of his innings. Seeing a short of length delivery come his way, Tewatia tried to get a little more out of it other than just a single, when he tried to swat it away to the on the side but only could manage a faint top edge straight to Kishan, giving Neesham his third. The misery had ended for Tewatia. But not for his team.
The star of the show with the ball was Nathan Coulter-Nile. Even though all the bowlers bowled well and kept it tight (or the Royals kept themselves quiet), apart from the timely wickets he provided to the MI team, the kind of deliveries that got those wickets, put a real dent into the minds of Royals batters. Coming around the wicket, he kept it straight all his spell, tying the hands of the batsmen. If one of those misbehaved, he would get his rewards. And that's exactly what happened time and again. David Miller played back to a good length delivery which kept low, which was as plumb as it gets. It was comical that he even wanted to review that, without any left. Coulter-Nile completed his spell with a four for by cleaning up Sakariya.
Bumrah picked up a couple while others kept it very tight to mount the pressure on. In the 19th over, Sakariya edged one through the slip region for a boundary, a boundary that came after all of 79 deliveries. 13.1 overs. Let that sink in. In the final over, the Fizz planted one into the long-off stands. Although this maximum got the score to 90, it also showed this pitch isn't as bad as his batting mates made it look like.
Having the likes of Mustafizur Rahman and Chetan Sakariya in their ranks, the Royals would've thought they could make a match out of this miserable total somehow. But the lines and lengths they bowled were just not up to their own standards. Having already batted on that wicket and one couldn't fathom the fact how they could fuller and wide on that wicket.
Ishan Kishan was back in the side in place of De Kock, after sitting out for a couple of games. With the pitch on offer and the pressure that was on Kishan, Royals could've had an opening if they bowled where they should. It didn't help the fact that Rohit Sharma came out all guns blazing. He had two things in mind behind this aggressive approach. For one, the pitch isn't gonna get any better to bat on, so try to knock off as many as possible when the field is up and the ball is hard and new. The other was the negative net run rate that Mumbai were having. Finishing their game early was a huge advantage and a need inorder to look for a place in the playoffs.
They got off to a flier, Rohit at least, when he smashed 14 off the first. With the score on 23 in three overs, Rohit himself had scored 22 of those . He got out playing one shot too many, with the ball not coming on, skied one straight to cover. Surya continued the approach from Rohit for a little while and got a few away before he too was foxed, by the slow nature of the pitch.
As bad as the Royals bowling was, Kishan made the most use of it to get himself back into form. Until the game was totally in their hands, he didn't play any big shots that would get himself into trouble. He smashed a six off a free hit and hit another one in the very next delivery, to calm his nerves. In the 9th over of the game, the Fizz bowled a couple of full tosses and Kishan sent both to the boundary to get his team over the line and brought up his fifty in style.
The pitch, the Royals batting and their bowling, three factors were as awful as they can get. Mumbai were exceptional at the same time too, courtesy of which they'll have another crack for a place in playoffs while Royals are left with just to play for pride.
Brief Scores: Rajasthan Royals 90/9 in 20 overs (Lewis 24; Coulter-Nile 4-14) lost to Mumbai Indians 94/2 in 8.2 overs (Kishan 50*) by 8 wickets