A T20 game is seldom decided with nearly ten overs left in the second innings. That’s what happened in the Eliminator on Wednesday as Mumbai Indians outclassed Lucknow Super Giants by 81 runs at Chepauk.
Chasing 183 for a place in Qualifier 2, the final nail in Lucknow’s coffin came in the 12th over when Marcus Stoinis was dismissed on 40. Reduced to 89/6, there was no way back. Mumbai Indians pacer Akash Madhwal, a 29-year-old from Roorkee in Uttarakhand playing in his first season and only his seventh game, was the star of the show, claiming figures of 5/5 in 3.3 overs.
Madhwal ended the proceedings with a joyous leap, after firing a deadly yorker to bowl Mohsin Khan and bundle out Lucknow in 16.3 overs. Mumbai’s thumping victory means they will play Gujarat Titans in Friday’s Qualifier 2 in Ahmedabad. The winner will face Chennai Super Kings in the final on Sunday.
While Cameron Green was Mumbai’s top-scorer with 41, other batters chipped in to propel the five-time champions to 182/8. The difference between the two sides was apparent in the ground fielding as Mumbai effected three important run outs.
For Lucknow, Naveen-ul-Haq – he grabbed eyeballs earlier in the season after a spat with Virat Kohli – was the lone bright spot. The Afghan seamer claimed 4/38 with a clever assortment of variations. That a section of the crowd chanted Kohli’s name when he was operating only seemed to fuel his wicket-taking desire.
Electing to bat, MI were extremely proactive in the Powerplay, reaching 62/2 at a run rate of 10.33 despite losing Ishan Kishan and Rohit Sharma. Expecting the surface to help spin from the outset, LSG skipper Krunal Pandya started with himself and off-spinner K Gowtham. Mumbai put the pressure back on them. Kishan favoured the region square on the off-side for each of his three fours. Sharma struck Krunal for a six over mid-on before bringing out the sweep for a four past short fine-leg.
With Mumbai on 29/0 after three overs, Krunal turned to his pacers and found instant reward. Naveen was able to get Sharma caught at cover off his second delivery. Yash Thakur induced Kishan to edge a delivery that was banged in short.
Those breakthroughs didn’t push Green and Suryakumar Yadav into exercising restraint though. Green hit two fours in his first three deliveries, taking advantage of the width on offer from Naveen. Suryakumar was equally gung-ho, pulling out that trademark shuffle across the stumps to help a short ball over the keeper for six off the fourth delivery he faced.
Suryakumar would repeat that shot three overs later. Green relied on brute power. The onslaught meant that their fifty-run stand came in just 28 deliveries, setting the platform for MI to bat Lucknow out of the contest.
If LSG were still in the contest at that stage, it was due to Naveen’s strikes. In the 11th over, he removed the set batters in the space of three balls. A 107.3 kph leg-cutter outfoxed Suryakumar, his miscued drive travelling to Gowtham at long-off. Green’s downfall was triggered by a 104.9 off-cutter that clattered the stumps.
While Tilak Varma slog-swept leggie Ravi Bishnoi for six over mid-wicket in the 12th over, they were able to score only 15 runs in the three overs following that without a boundary. Varma finally broke the shackles against Naveen in the 16th over, again relying on the sweep shot to fetch a much-needed maximum. But Naveen won that mini battle, yet another slower ball in the 18th over ending the left-hander’s innings.
Tim David also perished without maximising on the slog overs. It was subsequently left to Nehal Wadhera, coming in at No. 7 as impact player, to ensure a blistering finish to MI’s innings with a 12-ball 23.
In reply, Kyle Mayers – Lucknow’s batting reinforcement for the second innings – began with three fours in Jason Behrendorff’s first two overs. His stay was short-lived though, a back-of-a-length ball by Chris Jordan hitting the splice of the bat and lobbing to Green at mid-on. With opener Prerak Mankad already back in the dugout, Stoinis and Krunal had to lead Lucknow’s riposte.
While the Australian did a commendable job in taking the attack to the MI bowlers, Krunal was unable to get going. Frustration mounting, the Lucknow skipper was caught by David at long on after an unsuccessful attempt at clearing the boundary.
If that was unwelcome from Lucknow’s perspective, more agony was in store. In the 10th over, Madhwal removed Ayush Badoni and Pooran off successive deliveries. While Badoni was bowled after a wild swipe across the line, Pooran nicked a probing delivery outside off to the wicketkeeper.