After Saturday’s defeat to Lahore Lions, Mumbai had to win to stay in contention. They did, thanks chiefly to their overseas openers Lendl Simmons and Michael Hussey, who put on 139 in under 15 overs. Mumbai and Lions now have four points each, behind Northern Knights’ eight, and while Express are at the bottom, all four teams still have a chance of qualifying.
Simmons and Hussey started cautiously, playing mostly along the ground but finding the gaps to score 39 in the Powerplay. Hussey was slow early on and Simmons farmed most of the strike, finding boundaries with flicks and drives even though left-arm seamer Charith Jayampathi swung the ball. Once both batsmen were set and the ball stopped moving around as much, they started taking more risks and were rewarded with quicker runs.
Legspinner Seekkuge Prasanna was brought on in the ninth over to try break the partnership but Simmons smashed him out of the attack by taking 11 off the over. Hussey, who was going at run-a-ball till then, struck two sixes and a four in four deliveries to bring the equation down to 70 off 54 – a cakewalk, especially with all ten wickets in hand.
Both batsmen went on to their half-centuries but couldn’t finish off the chase themselves, as Hussey fell in the 15th over to a slog sweep. With net run-rate likely to play a big role, Kieron Pollard promoted himself up the order and hit a six off his first ball before finishing the game off with two more in the 17th.
Pollard used his bowlers to good effect in the first half of the innings after electing to bowl. Harbhajan Singh stifled the batsmen early on, bowling a maiden in the Powerplay. Jasprit Bumrah removed Kusal Perera, who tried to up the run rate, which was under three after three overs.
The other opener Danushka Gunathilaka was not as scratchy as yesterday and increased the run-rate as soon as the Powerplay was over, taking 12 off legspinner Shreyas Gopal’s first over. But Express lost too many batsmen to slogs or lofted shots, including a well-set Gunathilaka, who tried to slog against Jalaj Saxena’s offspin to fall for 30. Wickets kept tumbling for Express even though they were hitting the occasional boundary.
Prasanna hit consecutive sixes off Shreyas in the 12th over to push the run-rate towards seven and set the stage for Farvez Maharoof’s flourish at the end. Maharoof’s 22-ball 41 propelled them to a competitive 161 in the end. He didn’t hit a boundary in his first 14 deliveries, was dropped on 6, and then targeted Pragyan Ojha and Lasith Malinga. He unleashed reverse-sweeps against Ojha and cashed in on the full deliveries from Malinga in the last over, collecting 10 from the final two balls. Express were also helped by Mumbai’s sloppy fielding in the outfield and three dropped catches which helped them amass 59 in the last five overs.
Once Hussey and Simmons got going though, that total didn’t pose too much of a challenge.
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