- Jimmy Neesham and Nathan Coulter-Nile bowled brilliantly to help Mumbai win.
- Ishan Kishan scored fifty and gave MI a fast start.
- MI stands equal with KKR in points but fell a spot behind in fifth due to a lower net run-rate.
Mumbai Indians beat Rajasthan Royals by eight wickets in a low-scoring Indian Premier League match in Sharjah on Tuesday, thanks to excellent bowling from Jimmy Neesham and Nathan Coulter-Nile. Neesham (3/12) of New Zealand and Coulter-Nile (4/14) of Australia together took seven wickets for 26 runs in eight overs to restrict Rajasthan to 90 for 9. The five-time winners then batted for 8.2 overs to increase their lead to 12 points and, more crucially, to improve their net run-rate to -0.048.
This was also MI’s biggest victory in terms of balls remained (70). Ishan Kishan, 50 unbeaten, earned some much-needed confidence throughout the run chase as Mumbai Indians (MI) eliminated Rajasthan Royals (RR) from the IPL for the second time in a row.
Except for Yashasvi Jaiswal, the Royals did not have many great Indian players. Kishan, who has been in poor form for the whole of the UAE leg, blasted five fours and three sixes.
MI will now face Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday in another must-win game, although they would also like Kolkata Knight Riders (12 points, NRR +0.294) to lose their last match against the Royals on Thursday.
If KKR wins and moves up to 14 points, MI will know how much they need to beat the net run-rate of the Shah Rukh Khan-owned squad on the last day.
On the day, Neesham and Coulter-Nile struck the perfect length on a slick strip to restrict the Royals to the lowest T20 total by any side batting first at Sharjah.
Rohit Sharma made the correct decision by bowling first, and Neesham (3/12), who was playing his first game of the UAE leg, slowed down his deliveries on a Sharjah track where the ball wasn’t falling into the bat.
On his way to one of his finest IPL innings, Coulter-Nile (4-0-14-4) was excellent with his change-ups and often struck the hard-lengths.
Neesham and Coulter-Nile combined for only 26 runs in eight overs while also taking seven wickets, putting the Royals out of the game.
Jasprit Bumrah (2/14) was as dangerous as usual, taking key wickets in one of MI’s near-perfect bowling performances. The Royals were annihilated in four overs, falling from 41 for 1 in the last over of the Powerplay to 50 for 5 as the first ten overs came to an end.
MI had no way of turning back from that point. As Jayant Yadav made a diving catch at point, the in-form Sanju Samson (3) tried to swipe hard without reaching the pitch of the delivery.
After the CSK heroics, Shivam Dube tried to reach at a fuller delivery on “fifth stump” and pulled it back, while Rahul Tewatia (12 off 20 balls) attempted to pull a late short ball that took the edge into the hands of the keeper.
Neesham’s inclusion in lieu of Krunal Pandya, who has been a regular for the past five years, proved to be a masterstroke since he didn’t provide enough pace to move and also bowled wicket-to-wicket, not experimenting much.
Evin Lewis (24 off 19 balls) got the Royals off to a flying start, but the direction of the innings was altered when Yashasvi Jaiswal (12), a superb batsman, was caught behind after failing to ride the bounce off a Coulter-Nile delivery.
After Bumrah knocked Lewis out with an angular delivery, the Royals’ batsmen tumbled like a pack of cards.