Lucknow Super Giants 168 for 6 (Rahul 103*, Pollard 2-8, Meredith 2-40) beat Mumbai Indians 132 for 8 (Rohit 39, Tilak 38, Krunal 3-19) by 36 runs
The Mumbai Indians batting line-up fizzled out yet again to slump to their eighth straight loss of the season. The only team still without a win in IPL 2022 was chasing 169 on their home ground, Wankhede Stadium, after lion-hearted KL Rahul
century. On a ground with short boundaries, dew in the evening and strong crowd support, 169 was gettable. Mumbai have chased down bigger targets in far less friendly conditions.
But such as it has been this year, Mumbai slipped from 49 for 0 to 67 for 4 and once their top four was back with dejected looks in the dressing room, all their hopes rested on Kieron Pollard
again. They needed nearly two runs a ball - 102 off 52 - when he walked out, and even though Tilak Varma
showed signs of becoming a future star with his 38 off 27, the asking rate kept soaring and Mumbai fell short by 36 runs.
Is that you, Mumbai?
For some time it looked like Super Giants had swapped their shirts with Mumbai. The hosts' bowlers had turned up with a performance we had barely seen in the tournament so far and the Super Giants batters were barely able to score. Rohit bravely gave the second over to rookie Hrithik Shokeen
, whose flat offbreaks conceded just four runs, Jasprit Bumrah dismissed Quinton de Kock for 10 on the very next ball after seeing him get a life at deep backward square leg, and Riley Meredith and Jaydev Unadkat stifled Rahul and the No. 3 Manish Pandey.
If not for the back-to-back fours that Rahul crunched in the third over off Daniel Sams, Super Giants may not even have reached the 32 for 1 that they did at the end of the field restrictions.
Rahul's stellar form vs Mumbai continues
Single-handedly, he lifted the run rate over six after the powerplay. Single-handedly, he kept picking boundaries to not let the run rate drop below seven, even though wickets fell around him. And single-handedly, he chaperoned his team to a competitive total.
Pandey fell for a run-a-ball 22, Marcus Stoinis came out at No. 4 but found deep midwicket for a duck, Krunal Pandya
was done for 1 by a cutter from Pollard, and Deepak Hooda and Ayush Badoni also fell for low scores while trying to collect late runs.
All this while, Rahul did what no Mumbai batter could - bat deep. He moved to 29 off 30 balls before taking off against the fast bowlers, especially when they pitched it short. He started with a six over midwicket off an Unadkat slower ball. Then came back-to-back fours - a pull and a cut - against Meredith. Even Bumrah struggled to stop him - which is actually par for the course in the IPL
- as Rahul sped away to a 37-ball fifty.
Super Giants' biggest over was the 13th, bowled by Sams, which saw two sixes from Rahul and five wides as well, but Sams also got the big wicket of Stoinis with a slower one.
Krunal fell two balls later when Rohit slipped in two quiet overs of Pollard's cutters but Rahul was unfazed. From 126 for 5 after 16 overs, he went after Bumrah again by waiting deep in the crease for the yorkers, collecting two fours, one over point and the other through cover.
Bumrah bowled an impeccable 19th over, hitting the blockhole consistently, but Rahul collected three fours back-to-back off Unadkat to race to 94 and then belted Meredith for two sixes in the last over for his 61-ball century, which was his second of the season, third against Mumbai and fourth in all IPL cricket.
He finished unbeaten on 103, being in control for 85% of his shots and even though he had to score over 61% of Super Giants' runs on his own, it eventually proved to be enough.
That is you, Mumbai
ESPNcricinfo's predictor gave Mumbai a near 50% chance of chasing down 169. But Ishan Kishan
unusually defended his way to 3 off 12 and eventually fell for 8 off 20 when he bottom-edged Ravi Bishnoi to de Kock's boot and the ball lobbed to Holder at slip.
Rohit did the bulk of the scoring early on and took Mumbai to a steady 43 for 0 after the powerplay but they slipped suddenly as Dewald Brevis found third man off left-arm quick Mohsin Khan for 3 and his captain paid the price for a wild slog sweep against Krunal.
That brought Suryakumar Yadav and Tilak Varma together with the score at 58 for 3. Two overs later, Rahul gave the ball to Badoni who had never bowled in a T20 before. The offspinner's second ball brought him the big wicket of Suryakumar, who mistimed a whip to cover and neither Rahul, who took the catch, nor the Wankhede crowd could believe what had unfolded.
Pollard and Tilak stitched a stand of 57 in which Tilak took on Bishnoi for big sixes and Holder for back-to-back fours but once he mistimed Holder to deep midwicket, Mumbai's chances fell further. They needed 44 from 12, Pollard was on a run-a-ball 17, and Dushmantha Chameera's 19th over full of wide yorkers went for just five runs and pretty much sealed the match.
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo