Understrength Rajasthan no match for Mike Hussey-inspired Mumbai

Royals, without three key players, yet to make IPL play-offs after being beaten by 25 runs.
Mike Hussey's experience came in handy for Mumbai Indians. Pawan Singh / The National
Mike Hussey's experience came in handy for Mumbai Indians. Pawan Singh / The National

AHMEDABAD // Whenever Rajasthan Royals have played the flashier, feted franchises in the Indian Premier League (IPL), they have taken the underdog role.

Yesterday, the roles were reversed as Rajasthan, sitting pretty in third place on the points table, took on seventh-placed Mumbai Indians at Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad. The result was another triumph for the underdog, this time Mumbai, who burst Rajasthan’s bubble to craft a 25-run victory.

Rajasthan made four changes compared to Mumbai’s three with Shane Watson, the captain, returning to the side after recovering from a niggle and Ajinkya Rahane, Pravin Tambe and Steve Smith being rested despite still being a win or two away from qualifying for the play-offs.

The three watched helplessly as Mumbai opted to bat first and reached 178 for three, courtesy of half-centuries from Mike Hussey and Lendl Simmons as well as a late blitz by Rohit Sharma. A collective effort from the Mumbai bowlers then had Rajasthan finishing at 153 for eight.

With a stiff chase ahead, Karun Nair strode in with new opening partner Unmukt Chand, replacing Rahane. It proved a tough act to follow and Chand soon found Hussey at deep midwicket off Pragyan Ojha.

A few boundaries from Karun seemed to ease the pressure of the early wicket, but Rajasthan slipped to 42 for three in the fifth over, with Watson out to a short ball from Ojha and Sanju Samson following soon after.

Rajasthan chose creativity – which has served them well in the past – over pragmatism, sending in Kevon Cooper next. But Mumbai went one better, with an acrobatic catch from Kieron Pollard that would not have looked out of place at Cirque du Soleil. Cooper slapped a delivery from Harbhajan Singh to long-on and found Pollard, who caught it with one hand. But he started to lose his balance over the boundary rope, which saw him throw the ball in the air, before turning around and diving forward to complete the catch.

When Karun departed two runs short of a half-century, Rajasthan were 75 for seven in the 12th over and it seemed all over. However, Hodge, came in at No 8 and, with James Faulkner in tow, nearly caused a twist in the tale with a quick-fire 69 runs. Krishmar Santokie dismissed Hodge in the 19th over and the equation – 34 from the last over – was beyond the reach of Rajasthan.

Earlier, Hussey returned to the side in place of Corey Anderson and, alongside Simmons, got Mumbai off to a steady start. Simmons looked in particularly good touch, carving consecutive fours off Faulkner.

Hussey looked a rejuvenated player since his last outing three weeks ago and he pierced the gaps with ease as Mumbai brought up their first 50-run opening partnership of the season. He did not spare Faulkner either, pulling the ball to midwicket for a six.

Simmons also got into the action and the pace noticeably picked up after the 10th over, with even the usually economical Cooper being unable to stem the flow of runs.

Just as it looked like Rajasthan might be chasing a total in excess of 180, Ankit Sharma provided some much-needed respite, removing both openers in the 15th over.

Simmons (62) was the first to go, finding Cooper near the sight screen and bringing an end to the entertaining 120-run opening stand. Three balls later, Ankit baited Hussey (56) with a wide delivery and had him caught at long on.

The respite was brief, though, as Rajasthan had to then contend with Rohit and Pollard. Samson, the wicketkeeper, missed a straightforward chance to run out Pollard, letting the ball slip out of his grasp before breaking the stumps, but it was Rohit who proved the greater menace.

The Mumbai captain struck four sixes and three fours in his 19-ball 40, smashing 17 off Faulkner’s last over, before being run out off the last ball. Between the dismissals of Simmons and Hussey and the end, 56 runs were plundered and that was what made the difference.

Nisha Shetty is a sub editor with Wisden India. You can visit www.wisdenindia.com for more or follow their Twitter coverage @WisdenIndia


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Published: May 19, 2014 04:00 AM


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