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Aditya Tare top-scored in a critical win for the Mumbai Indians to ensure their place in the top two at the expense of the Rajasthan Royals who made a mess of their 169-run target. With the 14-run win, Mumbai maintained a clean 8-0 record at home this season.
The game began with the big news that Sachin Tendulkar had been rested due to the pain in the tendons of his right hand. The inconvenience has been incurred during his last game against the Sunrisers Hyderabad when he had retired hurt.
Tare pounced on the vacancy at the top of the order and provided Mumbai a rare good opening. While Glenn Maxwell struck three sixes in a short, entertaining innings, Tare raced to a 30-ball fifty. It would be interesting to see if the off-colour Tendulkar is brought back for the play-offs at Tare’s expense.
Mumbai were headed for a total in the vicinity of 190 or 200 when Kevon Cooper unleashed a game-turning moment. He induced an edge off Kieron Pollard’s bat. Cooper couldn’t reach the ball for the catch, but he collected it and threw down the stumps at the bowler’s end catching Pollard short.
Pollard had destroyed the Sunrisers with an innings that contained a sequence of six sixes in seven balls. Today, he was on the go with a six and a four and could have provided Mumbai the ideal finish after they had done brilliantly to reach 132-3 in 15 overs. Cooper’s direct hit prevented that from happening.
Watson, who’d earlier in the innings finished Maxwell’s six-hit count for the day at three, took a smart catch to dismiss Rohit Sharma. Watson then returned to get Ambati Rayudu caught in the deep, and so Rajasthan had removed all the big hitters from Mumbai’s middle order without a lot of damage.
Sadly, the game became a no-contest quickly as Rajasthan’s batting failed to get going. Rahul Dravid got a poor caught-behind decision from Sudhir Asnani and walked off the park shaking his head vigorously. James Faulkner, Sanju Samson and Ajinkya Rahane were caught trying to clear the in-field but the big wicket was Watson’s.
There was a bit of a by-play in the game with Pollard and Watson warming up to each other. Pleasantries were exchanged when Watson walked out to bat. The umpires had to butt in between the two to calm things down. Watson hit a couple of sixes and just when his innings was beginning to take shape, he mistimed a pull-shot off Pragyan Ojha’s first ball of the game. It was Pollard who took the catch and he didn’t let Watson forget this fact with his theatrics.
As Watson sat in his dug-out, he exchanged some more words with Pollard fielding at long-on. Watson took some menacing steps in Pollard’s direction but Dravid jumped in to ensure his fuming all-rounder changed his course and headed to the cool climes of the dressing room. Watson has lost this one, but he can hope to have another crack at Mumbai in the play-offs.