Mumbai Indians inched closer to elimination after setting themselves up for their first win, only to slump to their fifth defeat on the trot as Punjab Kings won a high-scoring IPL thriller by 12 runs, on Wednesday. A target of 199 looked imminently changeable when teenagers Dewald Brevis (49 off 25 balls) and NT Tilak Varma (36 off 20 balls) were at the crease but Punjab bowlers did well enough to restrict MI to 186 for nine at the end of 20 overs. Odean Smith (4/30 in 4 overs) redeemed himself after the horror last two balls against Gujarat Titans as he got two wickets in the final over for Punjab.
For Mumbai, eight wins in nine games with this kind of bowling attack looks near impossible.
However, if there was one positive, it was Brevis’s batting. It took eight balls before Brevis could get going as he unleashed a cover drive and a straight drive off Arshdeep Singh to tee off. A pulled six off Smith settled his nerves before he decided to wreak havoc with India international Rahul Chahar’s nerve.
A boundary was followed by four huge sixes as Chahar first lost length and then his bearings as one long hop after another was deposited into the stands.
The Baby AB’s transformation from boy to a man happened with that 29-run over which showed that MI had made a 10-year investment.
He was finally out one short of his maiden IPL fifty but not before leaving everyone yearning for more.
At the other end was Tilak, who had already made an impression, and showed great game sense by letting Brevis do the heavy lifting before he himself hit some marvelous sixes including an audacious slash over point off Smith.
The duo added 84 runs in just 6.5 overs to turn the match head-on before their successive dismissals did again bring Punjab back as fortunes swung like a pendulum.
Suryakumar Yadav (43 off 30 balls) wasn’t in the best rhythm and Kieron Pollard’s (10, 11 balls) season just got from bad to worse.
Finally, it was Surya, who took matters into his own hands with a six over extra cover off Vaibhav Arora and then opened the face to slash it over backward point for a six as 33 were required off the last three overs.
However, it was Kagiso Rabada, who removed Surya in the 19th over, caught by Smith in the deep after which there wasn’t much resistance left from MI.
Earlier, skipper Mayank Agarwal and veteran Shikhar Dhawan struck their first half-centuries of the season as Punjab Kings rode on a fine start from the openers to post a challenging 198 for five.
Punjab Kings have deployed the “attack is the best form of defense” philosophy during this edition of the league and there was no shift in policy as they added 97 in less than 10 overs to provide a perfect launchpad but Jasprit Bumrah’s (1/28 in 4 overs) brilliance kept the score below 200.
Bumrah’s toe-crusher which yorked the dangerous Liam Livingstone helped MI to keep things under check with 99 runs coming of the last 10 overs.
Agarwal, who wasn’t having a great run before this game, brought his customary square off the wicket shots on the off-side and straight lofts of spinners to score 52 off 32 balls.
Dhawan took his own time while playing the second fiddle but still kept up the tempo letting Agarwal go for the whole hog during their stand. But he did accelerate after that before getting out for 70 off 50 balls.
It was Mumbai’s domestic bowlers like Basil Thampi (2/47 in 4 overs) and Murugan Ashwin (1/34 in 4 overs), who aren’t measuring up match after match but skipper Rohit Sharma is helpless due to the lack of options.
Despite knowing Agarwal’s propensity to make room and smash through off-side, he was fed with length balls outside the off-stump by Thampi and Tymal Mills. When they bowled short, the pace was used to good effect.
In the case of Ashwin, the PBKS skipper would come down the track to loft him straight but he did get his man when Agarwal went for one shot too many.
Dhawan went onto his 45th IPL half-ton but the shot that showed his authority was a disdainful slog sweep off a 137 click delivery from Thampi.
Thampi did get his revenge by getting Dhawan holed in the deep before rookie Jitesh Sharma (30 no off 15 balls) smashed 23 off Jaydev Unadkat (1/44 in 4 overs) in the 18th over to get the momentum back which had slipped after a few dismissals.