Krunal Pandya powers Mumbai to crucial win

After Shahbaz Nadeem, bowling the first over of the game, got his first two balls to grip and turn, Delhi Daredevils captain Zaheer Khan may have been proud of the move to play an extra spinner. That quickly changed as Mumbai Indians’ Krunal Pandya pummeled 13 boundaries in a 37-ball exhibition of power-hitting against spin. His career-best score of 86 set up Mumbai’s total of 206 and their subsequent 80-run win in Visakhapatnam. As a result, they climbed to third spot on the points table, and Daredevils dropped from fourth to fifth.

Rohit Sharma laid into Nadeem in the first over to set the tone for Mumbai’s innings. A sweep and a lofted cover drive off consecutive balls meant Mumbai had already equalled their Powerplay boundary count from their previous game. However, Martin Guptill struggled to find timing in his second IPL game despite a forehand swat he sent for six over point in the fourth over.

Daredevils’ bowlers forced many chips and bunts through wily changes in pace. Rohit, though, peppered the midwicket region with exquisitely-timed heaves, primarily off the front foot. Just when it looked like Rohit was settling into the anchor role, he skewed a cut to point.

With two legspinners and a left-arm spinner, Krunal, batting at No. 3, utilised his hitting arc through midwicket. Even googlies from Amit Mishra and Imran Tahir were heaved across the line. Krunal’s brisk stand with Guptill resulted in a strong platform where Mumbai could launch from towards the end.

It was the 13th over that gave them the extra push. Tahir was walloped for consecutive sixes as he floated deliveries in Guptill’s half. And Pandya finished the over with two more boundaries as 23 runs were leaked. Pandya didn’t look back from there.

He struck eight boundaries in the following four overs to ensure Mumbai never stalled after Guptill held out to long-off. Krunal got to a 22-ball fifty with a muscular biff over long-on and celebrated it with an imitation of his brother Hardik’s stance. “I knew there were two legspinners and one left-arm spinner. I was picking the googlies and going with the flow,” Krunal said at the post-match presentation.

In the 18th over, Chris Morris used variations in pace and length to remove Krunal and Kieron Pollard in the space of four balls. A 16-run penultimate over meant Tahir finished with figures of 0 for 59, the worst returns by a spinner in the IPL. Twelve more runs in the last over gave Mumbai their fifth-highest IPL total.

Daredevils were never in the hunt after losing regular wickets in the chase. Quinton de Kock’s impressive pick-up strokes kept Daredevils hoping briefly. But those slim chances were ended when he was adjudged caught behind in the 10th over. De Kock went back in his crease to execute a late dab, but so deep he went that his bat flicked Jos Buttler’s gloves as he missed the ball, the second successive time he was wrongly given out.

By then, Mayank Agarwal, Karun Nair and Sanju Samson, had fallen for single-digit scores. With Harbhajan Singh ripping his offbreaks, Mumbai’s challenging score seemed out of reach as the required rate climbed steeply. JP Duminy and Rishabh Pant fell off Jasprit Bumrah’s consecutive balls in the search of quick runs.

Bumrah used his offcutters on a slow pitch effectively to finish with 3 for 13 from four overs. Daredevils folded for 126 as Mumbai recorded their third-biggest win. It was fitting that Krunal finished the game with an offbreak that turned past Zaheer’s outside edge to hit the off stump.(Cricinfo)

 

 

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