Shaun Marsh‘s fighting half-century defied a Mumbai Indians that had Sachin Tendulkar back from injury, a different mix of internationals – James Franklin and Thisara Perera instead of Richard Levi and Davy Jacobs – and a strangling spell from Kieron Pollard to give Kings XI Punjab a hard-fought win. Kings XI have extended their dominance over Mumbai to six wins from nine matches in IPL history and have got their 2012 campaign back on track, after they lost four of their opening six fixtures.
A spirited and committed performance in the field allowed Kings XI to keep Mumbai to a manageable total. But, not for the first time in this IPL, they fell behind with the bat after a solid start. Marsh had to contend with Pollard’s near heroics, as he nipped out Mandeep Singh and David Hussey, who were both well settled. The required run-rate soared to over 11 runs to the over but Marsh whittled the total down, before striking two decisive blows, off Munaf Patel and Perera in the last two overs. Both shots went for six, giving Kings XI room to breathe and David Miller five deliveries to get the winning runs.
Kings XI’s reply began methodically, right down to the scoring pattern. The openers scored 10 runs off the first over and six off the second, in that pattern, for six overs. As the start grew from solid to threatening, an increasingly frustrated Munaf, who was being targeted by the opening pair, was guilty of misfields and a mini-tantrum. If Mandeep and Saini were shaken by the sparks that were flying around them, they hid it well, and accumulated their runs through a series of proper cricket shots, elegant pulls and well-timed drives.
The course of their innings changed when Saini was out lbw to Pragyan Ojha and Mandeep skied a Pollard slower ball to deep midwicket fielder. Pollard dried the runs up, using wily changes of pace, and ensured Kings XI’s path to victory would not be a simple one.
Marsh and Hussey had to rebuild without losing sight of the required run rate, a juggling act that was tricky to balance. Hussey made the mistake of taking on Pollard and charged down, Pollard saw it coming and dropped it short, leaving Hussey to hole out to deep square leg.
Apart from one Azhar Mahmood six, Marsh had to see the game to its conclusion himself. He pulled Munaf over midwicket to leave Kings XI with nine to get off the last over. Marsh all but finished it off with a one-handed six over deep point off the first ball of the last over, a low full toss, to ensure Kings XI’s efforts in the field did not go to waste.
Mumbai Indians’ batting was pedestrian for the most part and it took an explosion between overs 11 and 15 to propel them to a competitive score. After choosing to bat, on a beautiful surface, they stuttered off the starting blocks. Their first run came after eight balls to and it was not until the 14th delivery that they found their first four. They reached the end of the 11th over on 65 for 2, with Sachin Tendulkar having showed glimpses of his exceptional touch in his comeback match before being run out.
It was only then that Franklin decided to take his foot off the brake. He smoked left-arm spinner Bhargav Bhatt into the stands. Dinesh Karthik also took a boundary off an over that cost 19 runs and the hosts had had woken up.
Karthik swept and reverse-swept Hussey, punished Mahmood’s full toss and short ball while Franklin continued to launch on the leg side, off Kumar. Their partnership looked dangerous and should have continued to flourish but Karthik was run out, against the run of play. He was looking for a second run after lofting the ball over extra cover but Franklin backed out and Karthik could not make his ground at the non-striker’s end.
The run-out pegged them back considerably. No over after that had more than nine runs scored from it, even the 20th which included four wides. Mumbai managed only 34 runs in the last five overs to end the innings as they started it: too slowly.