Like brother Hardik last season, Krunal Pandya emerging hero for Mumbai

  • Amit Kamath, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Apr 21, 2016 13:52 IST
Mumbai Indians spinner Krunal Pandya celebrate the wicket of AB de Villiers during their match against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Mumbai on Wednesday. (PTI)

Krunal Pandya hared down the Wankhede Stadium outfield, hands outstretched, celebrating like a man who had just won India the World Cup.

While the celebration seemed exaggerated, it showed just how much AB de Villiers and Virat Kohli’s wickets meant to the Mumbai Indians, as they must to any bowler. After all, the last time the two teams met, the duo had stitched an unbeaten 215-run partnership to take the game away from Mumbai.

That was not to be the case on Wednesday at the Wankhede Stadium as Krunal had Kohli caught at long off on 31 in the 11th over and then four balls later, flummoxed de Villiers with his spin to have him stumped for 28.

At that stage, RCB looked to be cruising to another gigantic total --- they were on 89/1 after 10 overs. Krunal’s twin strikes halted Bangalore’s march as the next three overs yielded 10 runs.

Krunal ended the night with figures of 2-27, once again turning the game in Mumbai’s favour when they needed it most. Only two nights ago, against Sunrisers Hyderabad at Uppal, he had scored an unbeaten 49 off 28 balls in the first innings to give Mumbai a fighting chance.

The rise of Krunal has coincided with the drop in form of his younger brother Hardik Pandya, who was arguably the find of last season for Mumbai. Over these two games, Krunal has put his brother in the shade. After being brought in at number 3 for the first three games, in which he could manage only 20 runs, Hardik was demoted to number seven, brought in to bat after Krunal. Both brothers vindicated that decision, Krunal scoring an unbeaten 49 while Hardik was out for 2.

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