Mumbai IndiansIt is difficult to fathom the batting line-up fiddling by Mumbai Indians. They brought in Hardik Pandya one-drop and Harbhajan ahead of Rayudu and Rohit Sharma. Fortunately, the tweak didn’t affect much since the surprise arrivals didn’t last long. Taken together, Pandya and Harbhajan consumed only 12 balls for their paltry 10 runs and Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard got their space in the 153-run chase. But the inexplicable change in the batting order created undue pressure and rather than an easy chase, Mumbai had to work harder in the last phase of the match. True, the fourth consecutive victory was commendable but it didn’t have to come in the last over with just three balls left. Earlier, Delhi had chosen to bat first but their intentions of posting a mighty total evaporated with their shoddy batting. Mayank Agarwal fell first ball and with Harbhajan bowling an extremely restrictive spell, runs stopped coming. In the 16th over, DD had progressed to just 102/5. Fortunately, Yuvraj Singh came good in the company of Saurabh Tiwary as the two batsmen added 57 in the last 5 overs to take DD to 152/6 in 20 overs. In their chase, Mumbai were also reduced to 100/5 in the 16th over but hefty blows from Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard made the essential difference for Mumbai in the end.

When Duminy won the toss and elected to bat, he must have thought of mounting an imposing total and then bowl out Mumbai Indians cheaply. The ploy failed as Mayank Agarwal poked at a speeding first ball from Lasith Malinga and the edge was held by Parthiv Patel. Shreyas Iyer, Duminy and Kedar Jadhav tried their best but with Harbhajan producing 16 dot balls in his 4-over spell, scoring lost its rhythm. By the 12th over, Delhi had lost four wickets with just 78 on the board. Yuvraj Singh and Angelo Mathews added another 24 before Mathews also fell. Yuvraj, who hasn’t had a great IPL 2015, took control for a change. In the company of Saurabh Tiwary, Yuvraj belted three fours in one over from Lasith Malinga and two successive sixes off Mitchell McClenaghan in the next over before getting out to a well compiled 57 off 44 balls. Riding on the 20-ball 41 stand between Yuvraj and Tiwary, Delhi Daredevils ended the 20 overs at the score of 152, which was, by no means, imposing.

Coming out to chase 153 for victory, Mumbai lost Lendl Simmons off the first ball in-swinger from Zaheer Khan that struck Simmons plumb in front as he missed the intended flick on the leg side. No one knows what prompted MI think-tank to send Hardik Pandya at that stage. For JP Duminy, however, it was time to apply pressure. He had Nathan Coulter-Nile operating from the other end as the batsmen groped for runs. With Pandya ill-at-ease, he was more thankful than regretful to be walking back to the dungeon. It was the second over and MI’s score read 8/2. Mumbai sprang another surprise in promoting Harbhajan Singh as no.4. Under the prevailing circumstances, it did not make much sense to hold back Rayudu or Rohit Sharma. It is time MI sorted out these things because in the face of stiffer targets such fiddling can lend them into heavy troubles. The shorter formats have outgrown the old concept of pinch hitters. Anyway, DD got rid of both Parthiv Patel and Harbhajan to make it 40/4 for Mumbai in the 6th over. Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu played more sensibly and took the score to 100 but they had already taken more than 15 overs and Rohit Sharma fell at that score. Fortunately for Mumbai, Rayudu and Pollard produced a good performance, when it mattered most. Earlier, unexpected rain had made the conditions bad and Mumbai needed 53 off 28 balls, when Rohit Sharma departed. Rayudu looked solid in his unbeaten 49 off 40 balls but Kieron Pollard’s 14-ball 26 became very valuable for Mumbai in the end as MI eked out a 5-wicket victory to remain in firm contention in IPL-8.