After an exciting opening day yesterday, Match two of the IPL saw an even more tense affair between the Rising Pune Supergiant and the Mumbai Indians. It was a derby match, with both cities in the state of Maharashtra. The game was played in the spirit of a local rivalry, as emotions were running high throughout the game. Steve Smith won the toss for the Rising Pune Supergiant and elected to bowl. After a poor start, Mumbai managed to post a highly competitive total of 184. However, two great innings from Ajinkya Rahane and Steve Smith meant that Pune were able to chase it down in the final over and win by seven wickets.
Tahir Takes Centre Stage
One of the biggest shocks in the IPL Auction was the fact that no one bought Imran Tahir. The South African leg-spinner has been a common face in the IPL, as he has played in four out of the ten years. At the moment Tahir is ranked as the number one T20 bowler internationally and so his exclusion was surprising. However, an injury to the Rising Pune Supergiant’s leading spinner, Ravichandran Ashwin, meant that he was handed a contract. At the toss everyone was puzzled over which leg spinner would play for the Rising Pune Supergiant, as Australian Adam Zampa was also in the squad. Yet they both were included in the team. Tahir put in an exceptional performance, taking three crucial wickets. He dismissed both openers Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler, using all of his variations. In addition to this, Tahir also removed the dangerous Rohit Sharma. This shook the entire Mumbai Indians batting line up and prevented them from scoring freely in the middle overs.
Hardik Goes Big
Before the final over Hardik Pandya was on a poor seven off nine deliveries as he had been failing to connect. That drastically changed though as Pandya hit four sixes in the final over to lift Mumbai from 154 to the imperious total of 184. Ashok Dinda’s over went for an incredible 30 runs – the most ever conceded in the final over of an IPL match. Hardik looked in terrific form, smashing three sixes off the first three balls, including one Dhoni-esque helicopter shot. That single over changed the whole course of the match, as he single handedly gave Mumbai a fighting chance.
Rahane Back to Form
Ajinkya Rahane’s international form had not been excellent heading into the start of the IPL. Yet Rahane looked in fluent form of the Rising Pune Supergiant as he hit a quick 60 off 34 balls. He looked comfortable scoring all around the ground, but looked in great touch when driving the ball into the offside and back down the ground. However, it was somewhat disappointing to see him throw away a great start. One criticism of Rahane is that he usually is not able to convert a good start into larger totals. This 60 was symptomatic of this, as he was not able to take his side further. Overall, though, it was a solid start from the Indian and he looks in imperious form.
Bumrah and McCleneghan
A lot of talk after the IPL Auction was the role of Australian fast bowler Mitchell Johnson for the Mumbai Indians. However, the two crore signing was unable to find a place into the Mumbai Indians starting XI, with Tim Southee and Mitchell McCleneghan favoured ahead of him. In hindsight they may regret this decision, but it must be noted that the seamers Jaspirit Bumrah and McCleneghan bowled beautifully at the death. Bumrah’s four overs only cost 29 runs, as he conceded only two boundaries in the 17th and 19th overs. This brought the game back in Mumbai’s favour and a top over form McCleneghan in the 18th made Mumbai favourites at one point. Together they produced some excellent death bowling.
Steve Smith the Finisher
When batting with MS Dhoni, you can usually rely on him to do the finishing for you. Dhoni is often hailed as the greatest limited overs ‘finisher’ ever but today he struggled. He only managed a run-a-ball 12 at the end of the innings and struggled to connect with many shots. Thus it was down to his replacement captain Steve Smith to do the damage. Needing 13 off the last over, Smith smashed two sixes to seal the victory in emphatic style. This came at the end of a magnificent innings of 84, which was enough to earn him the title of man of the match. There is no doubt that the Australian is one of the best batsmen in the world at the moment.