Earlier, Gujarat Lions rode on fluent knocks from McCullum (64 from 44 balls) and Karthik (48 from 26 balls) to pose a target of 177, which would eventually prove to be insufficient against the home side. Mumbai Indians lead the table with 4 wins from their 5 games, while Gujarat Lions are at the bottom, having won only one of their 4 games.
Here are the five major talking points from the game:
#1 Slow start hampers Lions’ charge
Put in to bat first, Gujarat Lions lost Dwayne Smith cheaply off just the second ball of the match. Thereafter, the duo of Brendon McCullum and Suresh Raina came together in an 80 run partnership for the second wicket, dominated by the former.
Runs were hard to come by and the Lions managed to score only 31 in their first five overs, until McCullum broke the shackles with couple of sixes against Malinga in the final over of the powerplay. McCullum’s innings continued to flourish but Raina was in a struggle of his own, unable to find timing on his shots.
He eventually perished for a painstaking 28(29). Repeatedly charging down to the spinners without success, Raina tried one too many and ended up slicing a widish delivery into the hands of Rohit Sharma at cover point. For Harbhajan, this was a record 5th time that he had dismissed his one time India teammate.
#2 Under-utilised Jason Roy wasted at No.6
Much to the amusement of everyone, Raina declared at the toss that Aaron Finch wouldn’t take part in the match since he had lost his kit-bag. Jason Roy was named his replacement. Yet, when Gujarat Lions came out to bat, there was no sign of Roy anywhere.
After a slow start and the departure of Raina, it would have been prudent to send in the free-stroking Jason Roy or in-form Dinesh Karthik to up the scoring rate. However, it was the young and in-experienced Ishan Kishan who walked out to bat.
The youngster then struggled to put bat to ball, compounding Lions’ run rate worries before he departed for 11(14). Even after McCullum’s departure, Roy was preceded by Karthik. Eventually, the England batsman came in only in the 18th over and faced 7 balls, making 14 runs.
The move to hold back Roy was a puzzling one and may have cost the Lions’ crucial few more runs.
#3 Dinesh Karthik continues his sublime form
Ahead of the Champions Trophy, Karthik was making all the right noses off the field on his desire to be a part of the Indian squad for the tournament and was backing the talk with solid performances in all formats in recent months.
The Tamil Nadu wicketkeeper batsman was in stellar form during the Vijay Hazare Trophy and topped the run-charts with 607 runs at an average of 86.71 and strike-rate of 102.01 with two centuries and four fifties, and took Tamil Nadu to the title.
The form has now carried into the IPL as well as he scored 40-plus for the second time in four innings. With the struggles of Raina and Ishan, Karthik had a job on hand to lift the Lions to a competitive score and he responded beautifully with a quick, unbeaten 48*(26).
#4 The costly miss and Rana makes merry
A shining light in their campaign this year, if Mumbai Indians have managed to stay on top of the table, in spite of the absence of Ambati Rayudu and the indifferent form of Rohit Sharma, a lot of credit should go to this left-hander who is in supreme touch this season and now the proud holder of the Orange Cap.
Rana scored a 36-ball 53 today and once again played a vital innings in MI’s successful chase. But much before this, he was thrown a lifeline as early as in the second over of the innings, he was dropped by Jason Roy off the bowling of Basil Thampi. Beaten by Thampi’s pace, Rana skied the ball to Roy at mid-wicket, where he dropped a sitter.
#5 Rohit Sharma returns to form
After disappointing performances in all the four previous outings, Rohit returned to form today against the Gujarat Lions. Before this game, the MI skipper had only managed a mere nine runs from four innings at the crease and questions were raised on the suitability of him batting in the middle order rather than opening.
While he continued to bat in the middle-order, Rohit looked closer to his best today. He came out to bat at the fall of Rana, when Mumbai Indians still required another 92 runs and stayed till the end, scoring an unbeaten 40*(29) and leading his team to victory.
For a batsman of his class, it was always the matter of one good innings and it seems this could be the knock that would turn around his early batting woes in this season.