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Stokes key in snapping Mumbai’s streak

Rising Pune Supergiant 160 for 6 (Tripathi 45, Rahane 38, Bumrah 2-29, Karn 2-39) beat Mumbai Indians 157 for 8 (Rohit 58, Parthiv 33, Stokes 2-21, Unadkat 2-40) by three runs

A spell of clever pace and length variations from Ben Stokes, which included a wicket-maiden and a tight, match-turning 19th over, helped Rising Pune Supergiant halt Mumbai Indians’ six-match winning streak and complete the double against their cross-expressway rivals.

On a slower-than-usual Wankhede Stadium pitch, Rising Pune fell away after a promising start to post a middling total of 160, but managed to defend it against the season’s best chasing side. Before today, Mumbai had batted second five times and won on each occasion.

This time, they fell four short of their target, after Rohit Sharma brought them within striking distance with his first half-century of the season. By conceding only seven off the 19th over, Stokes left Mumbai needing 17 off the last over.

Rohit swung Jaydev Unadkat for six second ball, but the left-arm seamer stuck to his guns of bowling slower balls wide of off stump. Rohit left one, hoping it would be called wide, but he had jumped a long way across, premeditatedly, and umpire S Ravi declined to do so. Having argued his point between deliveries, Rohit got back on strike and holed out, miscuing another slower one.

With Mumbai needing 11 off two, Unadkat only conceded one off the fifth ball – Mitchell McClenaghan run-out at the non-striker’s end trying to steal a second – rendering a last-ball six from Harbhajan Singh largely meaningless.

Tripathi, Rahane make bright start

Given Mumbai’s chasing record, Rohit had no hesitation in bowling first. The pitch seemed fairly typical early on, with the ball coming on nicely, and boundaries flowed frequently through and over the Powerplay fields. Rahul Tripathi and Ajinkya Rahane moved Rising Pune to 48 for 0 by the end of the Powerplay, and eventually added 76 in 9.2 overs, falling just two short of their team’s best opening stand.

Karn, Harbhajan begin Mumbai comeback

An unspecified injury – Rohit did not elaborate on its nature at the toss – had ruled Krunal Pandya out, and in his place Mumbai played an almost like-for-like replacement, the legspinning allrounder Karn Sharma. Karn’s first two overs – both bowled in the Powerplay – went for 17, but in his third over he got a googly to rear up at Rahane, who offered a simple return catch. In his next over, Tripathi holed out.

Harbhajan, meanwhile, had bowled three overs at the other end without conceding a boundary. In his fourth, he gave Mumbai their most yearned-for breakthrough. Steven Smith, failing to spot a drop in pace from the offspinner, played all around him and became his 200th T20 victim.

Mumbai’s fast bowlers used the slower one just as well; like Smith, Stokes and MS Dhoni were also bowled playing across the line. Apart from a 13-ball 22 from Manoj Tiwary, there was no middle-or lower-order spark from Pune, and they eventually only managed 60 in their last eight overs.

Stokes gets Buttler

Just like Pune’s openers, Jos Buttler and Parthiv Patel enjoyed batting against the hard, new ball. Five fours in the space of eight balls lifted Mumbai to 27 for 0 after three overs.

Stokes came on to bowl the fifth over and took only two balls to deliver the breakthrough. Buttler was looking to make room to slap over the bowler’s head or over mid-off; Stokes sent down the slower ball, forcing him to drag it further into the on side than he would have wanted, straight to the man at long-on.

Mumbai’s left-hander strategy backfires

With Nitish Rana joining fellow left-hander Parthiv, Pune replaced Stokes with the offspin of Washington Sundar, who had delivered one tight over and one expensive over in the Powerplay. He responded by conceding only six runs in the seventh over. Smith kept him in the attack even after Rana fell to a Daniel Christian slower ball. Washington kept denying Parthiv room, and bowled him with his last ball as he tried to cut him off the stumps. The score now read 60 for 3 in nine overs.

By bowling Washington out so early, Pune had been able to delay the introduction of Imran Tahir, and time it to coincide with the arrival of Rohit, who has had issues with wristspin through the season. As a counter-measure, Mumbai promoted Karn, another left-hander – he hit one six off Tahir before Stokes returned in the 13th over and bowled him with – surprise, surprise – the slower ball.

Stokes tilts the seesaw

 At this point, Mumbai needed 75 off 47 balls. Rohit kept them in touch with the asking rate, clubbing and slog-sweeping Tahir for four and six in the 14th over, and picked up a boundary each off Stokes and Shardul Thakur in the 15th and 16th. Tahir’s dismissal of Kieron Pollard, caught at long-off, left Mumbai needing 39 from 23.

It was doable with Rohit at the crease, particularly when he had Hardik Pandya for company. Before today, Mumbai’s run rate in the last five overs while chasing – 12.11 – was the best in the league, and Hardik, in that phase, had scored 46 off 21 without once being dismissed. Rohit brought up his fifty in the 18th over, and Hardik spanked Unadkat for successive fours immediately afterwards, leaving Mumbai needing 24 off the last two overs.

Stokes, though, still had an over left to bowl. This one would be full of yorkers, with a couple of slower offcutters thrown in for variety. Neither Rohit nor Hardik was able to get underneath his deliveries, and only seven came off the over.

Credit:@ESPNSTAFF

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