For the first time in their entire history of IPL, Kings XI Punjab arrived at their original base in Mohali on top of the league table.
There were no worries of chasing a win to stay alive in the tournament and nine wins in 11 matches meant they have made it to the playoffs for the second time in seven seasons. On the other hand, defending champions Mumbai Indians are fighting with their back against the wall needing to win all their matches to keep their playoff hopes alive.
It was Mumbai’s match to win or lose and after bowlers led by Shreyas Gopal did a wonderful job of restricting Punjab to 156, Lendl Simmons shouldered the responsibility of getting the side home by seven wickets and in the process scored the first century of this edition of the IPL.
In the West Indian, Mumbai it seems to have got their opening combination right after five or six experiments went wrong. Simmons carried on even after Michael Hussey was dismissed cheaply.
He started with consecutive fours off Sandeep Sharma’s first over. And later hitting left-arm pacer Beuran Hendricks for three boundaries to wrest the momentum for Mumbai.
One year on and the new team combination has clicked for KXIP and they looked all set for another massive total, till Mumbai managed to pull things back.
Mumbai not only needed to click as a team but also required rub of the green going their way. It all started with an unusual dismissal of Virender Sehwag.
Sehwag started with hitting a couple of sixes but was run out by Praveen Kumar, after the opener’s straight drive hit Manan Vohra’s foot. Shaun Marsh, playing for the first time this season in place of David Miller, then shared a 64-run stand with Vohra as Punjab raced to 85 in 9 overs.
Punjab innings was derailed with rookie spinner Gopal striking twice in the 11thover. He had Vohra clean bowled for 36, and then snared the big wicket of Glenn Maxwell reducing Punjab to 92 for four.
Maxwell has been in awesome form this year but has struggled against leg-spinners. This is the fifth time that he has fallen to a leggie with Piyush Chawla, Yuzuvendra Chahal, Amit Mishra, Imran Tahir and on Wednesday, Gopal getting the better of Aussie.
The middle-order collapse left KXIP in danger of posting a sub-par score until skipper George Bailey anchored the innings to get his side to 156.