Royals v Mumbai Indians, IPL 2014, Ahmedabad May 19, 2014

Royals fall behind in top-two race


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Hattangadi: Rajasthan were oversmart

Mumbai Indians 178 for 3 (Simmons 62, Hussey 56) beat Rajasthan Royals 153 for 8 (Nair 48, Harbhajan 2-13, Gopal 2-25) by 25 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Faced with a must-win situation on a dry pitch, Michael Hussey and Lendl Simmons produced a century stand for the first wicket - Mumbai Indians' best in 40 games - that helped them prevail over third-placed Rajasthan Royals in Ahmedabad. Both batsmen scored half-centuries before Rohit Sharma used the platform as a springboard for a 19-ball 40 that lifted his team to 178. Their three spinners then shared two wickets each to give Mumbai Indians a comfortable win that took them level with Sunrisers Hyderabad on points.

However, one has to question the number of changes made by Royals ahead of an important match, given they were still not assured of a place in the playoffs. Kane Richardson, the Royals seamer, had even mentioned on the eve of the match that they were in no mood for experimentation, but there were four changes when Shane Watson came for the toss. They swapped Ajinkya Rahane, easily their best batsman for such conditions, for Unmukt Chand, who hadn't played a game this season, while also benching their best bowler, Pravin Tambe.

With this loss, they have not only kept Mumbai Indians' dreams alive, but also got stuck on seven wins from 12 games with two difficult away matches to go - against Kings XI Punjab and Mumbai Indians.

Unlike Royals, Mumbai Indians' changes didn't need an explanation. Corey Anderson had come to the end of the long rope he had got from the management, CM Gautam hadn't set the scene on fire with his batting and Lasith Malinga had left for England to join his national team. In came, Hussey, Krishmar Santokie and the young Karnataka allrounder Shreyas Gopal, all of whom played their parts.

Hussey had been dropped after only 30 runs in his first four matches for Mumbai Indians but on a slow pitch in Ahmedabad, he showed the quality that the team had been missing at the top of the order. He remained busy in the first half of the innings, manoeuvring the ball with ease, while his partner, Simmons, mainly looked for the big shots. At the end of five overs, Mumbai Indians were on 34, and more importantly, without the loss of any wicket, nine more than their previous best opening stand this season.

Simmons wasn't comfortable with the deliveries that stopped on him but used powerful cuts and lofted shots whenever offered with the right length. He had six boundaries to Hussey's one as the partnership reached 50 in the seventh over.

Hussey, the more fluent of the two, just got better with the day. He crisply timed a length ball from Stuart Binny through covers for his second boundary before deftly punching a slower delivery from Rajat Bhatia through point for his third.

Off the first ball of the 11th over, he hammered a slower bouncer from James Faulkner over deep midwicket. He smashed another six in the next over, before nudging the next ball for a single to reach his half-century off 32 balls, easily beating Simmons to the landmark.

Both batsmen were dismissed in the 15th over, allowing Rohit just enough time to cut loose. Even though Kieron Pollard struggled for timing with the ball reversing, Rohit clobbered three sixes and a four in the last two overs that cost Royals 29 runs.

Mumbai Indians introduced spin early in the chase and Pragyan Ojha, who had just one wicket this season till then, struck twice in his first two overs to remove Chand and Watson. Karun Nair played a free-flowing innings of 48 from 24 balls, but with batsmen offering catches at the other end, the Royals innings came off tracks early. Brad Hodge and James Faulkner, coming in at Nos 8 and 9, landed some parting blows but the match had long slipped out of Royals' hands.

Devashish Fuloria is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rookie on May 20, 2014, 10:20 GMT

    RR have done what they shouldn't have done. Just one more win and they should have been in playoffs. Giving rest to Rehane (hope hez not injured) is I think is not a good idea. Very disappointed with their approach while chasing. Hopefully they shouldn't do these mistakes and make sure they win the next match to cement a place in playoffs.

  • Fiiz on May 20, 2014, 8:58 GMT

    regarding foreign players its tough decision for RR but I think they should include Ben Cutting as he is much better bowler than Kane Richardson plus he bats also, apart from that james faulkner is another important player, third one is captain himself shane watson howvever its tough choice to choose between brad hodge and Steve smith.....Regarding local players i don't understand why they are persist with binny can't they have a replacement to that

  • Daison on May 20, 2014, 5:45 GMT

    I hope RR has not blown it away. Yes, they are at third place currently but has played one match extra with two difficult matches (MI & KXIP) remaining. It is difficult to see RR earning anymore points. Having said that, if KKR win one more game (CSK,RCB,SRH) they will be equal points with RR. And RCB win two more (SRH, KKR, CSK) they will be equal points with RR as well. Then it will all boil down to run rates for third and fourth positions. RR had a chance to put to rest all these speculations yesterday but they chose to rest key players and bought a loss. One more win they are through, it was a chance yesterday. I would rate the chances of KKR winning one more and RCB winning two more higher than RR winning on more. Even third place is not assured boys!!! And to top it MI still can get in the mix if they win three more (KXIP, DD, RR). I wouldnt rule that out either.

  • Sundar on May 20, 2014, 4:02 GMT

    @android_user I agree that KKR deserves the 4th place in play offs and they should make it comfortably, barring some miracle.RR will pull through to at least 3rd play off position. While I am an MI fan, I think this year they will just loose out. I don't see them winning all their remaining matches. The best I see for MI is 5th position with 12 points

  • Dino on May 20, 2014, 1:50 GMT

    So disappointed to see Sanju Samson throwing away his wicket. It was the best chance for him show his talent, instead he just threw away the wicket.

  • Steve on May 20, 2014, 0:40 GMT

    Good on you Hussey, good innings setting up the win. it would have been a shame to see a great batsman like him bow out on a poor note. winning without Mallinga was a great effort

  • Ashok on May 19, 2014, 23:36 GMT

    RR should stop playing games with their XI. Dropping Rahane & Tambe was omission of their Best Batsman & Best bowler in IPL 7. In addition Smith has been pushed in secondary post eve in the batting order in the last match & dropped today. This is most unlike RR management with Dravid at the helm. If they carry on in this mode, they may not make it to the playoffs. Experimentation before clinching the playoff spot will lead to their elimination. Why change what is working? RR team is settled both in XI + in batting order. Play with the settled team with no more than one change to give rest to all. Hodge is a good player & should always be in XI as one of the Four Foreign players. In my opinion Binny should not be in regular XI. He has the poorest record. I would replace him with Chand, a very talented batsman. In fact I consider Uthappa, Vohra, Naik & Chand as the 4 best openers not even on radar of the Indian selectors yet. Chand definitely deserves to be in RR regular XI.

  • Patrick on May 19, 2014, 21:32 GMT

    Rajasthan Royals team selection and batting order is mind-blowingly crazy. They drop their second best batsman (Smith), and their next two best batsmen bat at number EIGHT and NINE! what are you thinking???!!!!!

  • Al on May 19, 2014, 21:05 GMT

    Why is the Man of the Match award is so tiltd towards batting performances,especially in IPL or 20/20? Case in point, the Royals vs. Indians (May 19th, 2014). M. Hussey was awarded MoM for scoring 56 runs in 39 balls. Harbhajan Singh bowled 4 overs, giving 13 runs with two wickets. Now which of the two performances is more valuable in that match, that too for a 20/20 match? Was Hussey scoring 56 in 39 balls really more valuable than Harbhajan bowling 4 over spell, giving up only 13 runs with 2 wickets. This is not the only match where I have seen this. Some really great bowling performances have been overlooked and the MoM ends up in the hands of a batsman, that too in 20/20 matches.

  • Murali on May 19, 2014, 20:04 GMT

    I think any bloke with the most basic cricketing intellect would realise that MI played some sensible cricket. Like other teams, didn't gift their points to RR. For IPL to be more interesting, teams need to step us their gas and play to their potential. And in my opinion, in terms of potential and talent - CSK, KXIP, RCB and SRH would make the playoffs very interesting and competitive!!!

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