Mumbai win edges Pune closer to exit
Mumbai Indians 160 for 7 (Suman 36, Rahul 2-7) beat Pune Warriors 139 for 7 (Pandey 59, Malinga 3-25) by 21 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Pune Warriors and Mumbai Indians are geographically the two closest IPL franchises but they couldn't get any further from each other in the points table. Mumbai proved they are the best team in the tournament and reclaimed their position at the summit of the table by battering Pune at the DY Patil Stadium, whose freefall continued with a seventh successive loss that kept them firmly at the bottom.
Mumbai gave another demonstration of the depth of their batting talent, as two men who have had little batting time this season, T Suman and Kieron Pollard, fired them to a competitive total. Their brilliance undermined the efforts of the Pune spinners who had initially shackled Mumbai.
Yuvraj Singh, who has under-bowled himself in the IPL, removed the rocks at the top of the Mumbai batting, Sachin Tendulkar and Ambati Rayudu. Then, legspinner Rahul Sharma prised out two important wickets with the most economical spell of the season (4-0-7-2) to leave Mumbai at an insufficient 114 for 5 after 15 overs. Suman and Pollard, however, got stuck into the erratic Alfonso Thomas to lift Mumbai to a competitive score.
Mumbai had briskly moved to 56 for 1 after seven overs, before Rahul and Yuvraj pulled them back. Rahul's combination of quick legbreaks and topspinners proved hard to get away, before Yuvraj made the big breakthrough in the ninth over, getting Tendulkar to hole out to short extra cover. Yuvraj and Rahul choked the innings in a four-over passage of play that yielded only 13 runs. That forced Rayudu to attempt the big hit, but he holed out to long-off.
Suman was surprisingly promoted ahead of Andrew Symonds and Pollard for his first proper hit this season, and he provided Mumbai the momentum they desperately needed. In an innings where everyone else had struggled to score at a run-a-ball till then, Suman came out blazing, racing to 19 off seven with a couple of stylish sixes.
Rahul returned and removed the struggling Rohit Sharma and Suman in two overs, but in between those strikes Suman showed off his timing with a four and a six to long-off against Thomas. Pollard then provided the final flourish, unleashing his brand of brutal straight-hitting. Thomas bore the brunt as he was whipped for 27 in the penultimate over, and Pollard's quickfire 30 made sure Pune's batsmen had a challenge on their hands.
Pune's reply got off to a horror start as Jesse Ryder sliced the first ball to backward point. Graeme Smith has not been in the best touch with the bat for quite a while now, and that spell continued today. Manish Pandey's timing was completely awry, and the decision to promote Abhishek Jhunjhunwala meant the big guns, Yuvraj and Robin Uthappa, were pushed too low in the order.
The most expensive over in the first ten overs of the chase fetched only nine runs, and the asking-rate soared past 11 by the halfway stage. Lasith Malinga then harried Yuvraj with a series of bouncers, the last of which was awkwardly popped towards third man where Munaf Patel took a tumbling catch. It was the knockout blow, and Yuvraj was left on the floor.
The big news ahead of the match was that Pune had bought former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly. Even if that does prompt a dramatic turnaround, it might be too late for Pune, as even winning all their remaining matches may not be enough to make the semi-finals.
Siddarth Ravindran is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo