Ashutosh Sharma’s heroics in vain as Jasprit Bumrah-inspired Mumbai Indians beat Punjab Kings by 9 runs at IPL 2024 | Crickit
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Ashutosh Sharma’s heroics in vain as Jasprit Bumrah-inspired Mumbai Indians beat Punjab Kings by 9 runs at IPL 2024

By, Mullanpur
Apr 19, 2024 12:23 AM IST

Ashutosh's brilliant 61 had the five-time champs under immense pressure but Pandya's team won in the end.

For a while, Mumbai Indians must have been genuinely scared. They had reduced Punjab Kings to 50/5 early in the chase but then Shashank Singh (41 off 25 balls) and Ashutosh Sharma (61 off 28) got together to put the pressure back on the visitors in some style.

Mumbai Indians' Jasprit Bumrah , right, and Mumbai Indians' Tilak Varma celebrates the dismissal of Punjab Kings' Shashank Singh (AP)
Mumbai Indians' Jasprit Bumrah , right, and Mumbai Indians' Tilak Varma celebrates the dismissal of Punjab Kings' Shashank Singh (AP)

The equation eventually came down to 25 off 18 balls with three wickets in hand. Jasprit Bumrah had finished his quota of overs and the nerves had taken full effect. But Gerald Coetzee struck with the first ball of the 17th over to send back Ashutosh.

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The drama didn't end there though. Harpreet Brar (21 off 20) kept the engine running for a bit more before Kagiso Rabada was run out off the first ball of the 20th over. The final victory margin was just nine runs.

Put in to bat first by the Punjab Kings, MI made their way to 192/7 thanks to a controlled 53-ball 78 by Suryakumar Yadav and a quickire 34 off 18 balls by Tilak Varma. Rohit Sharma chipped with 36 off 25 balls.

MI lost Ishan Kishan early but the 81-run stand between Rohit and Suryakumar laid the platform that the five-time champions could build upon.

At the midway point of the innings, MI were 86/1 and looking good to easily get past 200. But the PBKS bowlers responded by digging deep into their bag of slower balls to kill the momentum in the innings. By the 14th over, MI had only advanced to 115/2.

That is when Varma showed why he is highly regarded. He started picking the slower balls and helped his team put a competitive total on the board.

In reponse, PBKS were reduced to 14/4 just 13 balls into their innings. Before one knew it, Prabhsimran Singh, Rilee Rossouw, Sam Curran and Liam Livingstone were all back in the dressing room. Gerald Coetzee and Jasprit Bumrah shared the wickets to make an already challenging task into one that required something very special to even stay in the game.

By the end of the seventh over, PBKS had reach 50/5 and in big trouble. Leg-spinner Shreyas Gopal took a fine caught and bowled to send back impact player Harpreet Bhatia and extend the agony of the home team.

It could have been worse but the in-form pair of Shashank Singh (41 off 25) and Ashutosh Sharma (61 off 28) got PBKS back into the match and did enough to give Pandya's side more than a few nervous moments.

Shashank played fearlessly once again but the star of the show was undoubtedly Ashutosh, who took on all comers including Bumrah in a splendid exhibition of hitting. He finished with two fours and seven sixes before being caught in the deep.

As has become the norm, almost all MI bowlers were expensive with the exception of Bumrah, who finished with figures of 4-0-21-3. MI won the match but the match once again shone the light on Pandya's struggles to get the best out of this bowling line-up.

"What a game! We started really well," said MI pacer Coetzee (3/32) after the game. "Cricket's a funny game. We thought we had it, they batted really well. Then it was like a see-saw."

"This team loves a close game," said Kings captain Sam Curran. "Got well to get close, thanks to Ashutosh. Great effort to get that close. You don't want to be losing close games."

For PBKS, it was another defeat in the last over this season. But most will remember this game, not for their defeat but for their fight.

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