Mitchell McClenaghan grabbed two crucial wickets in as many balls as Mumbai Indians pulled off an exciting eight-run victory over Rajasthan Royals in their Indian Premier League cricket match at the Wankhede on Friday.
Chasing a stiff target of 188 set by Mumbai Indians, wicket-keeper Sanju Samson cracked a brilliant 76 in 46 balls to bring the Royals close to the target before New Zealander McClenaghan dismissed him as well as Karun Nair off successive balls to bring the home side back in the game when it seemed like it was drifting away from them.
Lasith Malinga grabbed the wicket of Deepak Hooda in the next over to leave Royals the task of scoring 20 runs in the last over and they finally fell short by eight runs — scoring 179 for 7.
McClenaghan snapped up 3 for 31 while Malinga finished with 1/34 and Vinay Kumar — who bowled the last over ended with 1/39 and Jagadeesha Suchith got the all important wicket of Shane Watson.
Royals looked all set for their eighth win in ten games when Samson played a whirlwind knock laced with 3 sixes and six fours, but his dismissal through a catch at long off stymied the Royals’ run-chase.
It was MI’s third win in eight games and kept their play-off hopes alive. Earlier, put in to bat MI’s Rayudu struck a breezy half century to help Mumbai Indians overcome a sluggish middle phase after a good start to end up with a combative total.
Rayudu, promoted to fifth ahead of Kieron Pollard, justified the faith in striking a quick-fire unbeaten 53 in 37 balls, laced with 3 sixes and four fours to help lift MI recover from 120 for four after 15 overs to a more competitive total.
Rayudu put on 61 runs in only 30 balls with West Indian Pollard who made 24 in 14 balls before departing with two balls left to help MI finish the innings with a flourish.
Earlier a decent start of 43 was provided by openers Lendl Simmons (38 in 31 balls) and left-handed Parthiv Patel (23 in 14 balls) who were again guilty of not getting to a big score after getting their eyes in after MI were put in to bat by rival skipper Watson.
For Royals Steven Smith (23 in 20 balls) was undone by the accurate outside off-stump line by McClenaghan. He slashed hard and was brilliantly caught by Harbhajan Singh at third man off the last ball of the 15th over. Samson however kept his cool and was guiding the team closer to the target before he was dismissed by McClenaghan via a catch at long-off.
When Mumbai batted, captain Rohit Sharma too promised much before departing for 27 before Rayudu and Pollard combined forces to provide MI with a good total at the Wankhede Stadium.
Watson kept shuffling his bowlers and reaped rewards.
Dhawal Kulkarni snapped up the wickets of Patel and Rohit while giving away 26 runs in 3 overs while the other three wickets were shared by Tim Southee, Juan Theron and Ankit Sharma.
Chasing 188 – the Royals should have lost man-in-form Ajinkya Rahane cheaply in the first over but for Suchith grassing the catch at square leg.
Rahane made only 16 but importantly put on 30 for the first wicket with captain Shane Watson who made 28 in 23 balls before he was castled by Suchitch with his left arm spin when the score was 71.
Watson, who hit two pulled sixes, put on 41 runs for the second wicket with Samson who seems to have a liking for the Wankhede track, having scored a fine 74 in 47 balls in the last IPL against MI too.
Samson played big shots like the slog-swept six off Suchith as well as cheeky ones like the off glides for fours offHarbhajan Singh, and Steve Smith then put Royals well on way to a possible victory with a partnership of 56 that helped the team cross the 100 mark in the 12th over. But it all came to naught with Samson’s dismissal.