Two days after their top order made short work of a 186-run target against Kolkata Knight Riders, Mumbai Indians' middle order muscled an above-par total of 192 on a sluggish pitch against Sunrisers Hyderabad to set up their third straight win and take them two places up to the sixth spot on the points table. It was also the second day in a row in the IPL where a team defended a total successfully.
Mumbai will also gain confidence from the fact that their bowlers reduced Sunrisers to 127 for 5 in the 14th over without the help of Jasprit Bumrah and Jofra Archer, their main quick bowlers, and were largely ahead in the game. Heinrich Klaasen, Marco Jansen and Washington Sundar pulled out some big hits but couldn't finish the job. The last over started with 20 required, and Arjun Tendulkar had the ball. It was a sequence of wide yorkers, which resulted in two wickets and just five runs scored.
The prime architects of Mumbai's win were Cameron Green and Tilak Varma, who put on a stand of 56 in 28 balls and helped them score 83 off the last six overs before Green sent down some tight overs to finish with 1 for 29, including the big wicket of Aiden Markram.
Rohit lights up the powerplay
After opting to bowl, Sunrisers brought on Washington in the third over for the match-up against Rohit Sharma: 25 runs off 26 balls with three dismissals before this game. But Rohit turned it around by taking on the bigger leg-side boundary, which had the two fielders out. He hit two fours behind square, and then one through cover-point to hit the pedal.
Rohit continued to attack with his array of shots; he smoked T Natarajan over mid-on and ramped him for four more. It didn't last long. Natarajan sent a slow cutter on the pads and Rohit got a leading edge to mid-off to leave for 28 off 18.
But Ishan Kishan then took over and took Mumbai to 53 for 1 at the end of the powerplay.
Caught Markram bowled Jansen
Jansen had already bowled two good overs in the powerplay - making him one of the best in this IPL with an economy rate of 5.57 - and he returned for the 12th over to strike twice. He first banged the ball short - not to forget the height he delivers from - to make Kishan miscue the ball to mid-off, where Markram completed an excellent catch.
Four balls later, Markram was at it again when Suryakumar Yadav chipped a slow cutter down the ground; Markram ran across, put in the dive, and got up with the ball in his hand. It was a case of leading by example after Markram had said at the toss that his team had to field better, having dropped 11 catches earlier in the tournament, according to ESPNcricinfo's data.
Mumbai could have easily slipped or slowed down after that, but their search for boundaries every over paid off when Tilak Varma and Green took on their best bowler of the day to start the onslaught.
Green used his tall frame to unleash big swings combined with brute force, while Tilak Varma displayed more of his clean hitting and supple wrists against the spinners. The two batters collected 21 and 14 runs off the 15th and 16th overs respectively, with three fours and as many sixes to lift the run rate from 7.78 to nine an over.
It took Bhuvneshwar Kumar's experience in the 17th and 19th overs to keep Mumbai under 200. He took the pace off with his cutters and knuckle balls to concede just 14 runs in those two overs.
Natarajan, meanwhile, missed his yorkers and Green dispatched him for three consecutive fours followed by a six over long-off that also took him past his first IPL fifty, off 33 balls. In the last over, Tim David manipulated the field to put away two more Natarajan full tosses to collect 14 more useful runs.
Behrendorff makes early inroads
After missing the previous game because of an illness, Jason Behrendroff returned to deliver two big and early bowls to Sunrisers. His short ball drew a top edge from Harry Brook before a delivery outside off took Rahul Tripathi's outside edge to Kishan.
The onus was largely on Markram now to chaperone them to the end overs as Mayank Agarwal wasn't scoring as quickly and the asking rate was creeping up.
Markram started attacking with his strong suit - hitting a six off a spinner - but holed out to deep midwicket off Green while attempting a big hit. Three balls later, Abhishek Sharma found long-off off Piyush Chawla and Sunrisers were four down with the asking rate nearly touching 12.
Shades of a fightback
With runs not coming easily and the lack of dew helping the bowlers, Sunrisers were already behind the curve. They got a big boost when Heinrich Klaasen blasted Chawla with two mighty pulls and two reverse sweeps for 4, 6, 6 and 4, but he then handed a catch to long-on in the same over, but after reducing the equation to 66 from 36.
It was within reach at that point, but Meredith soon accounted for Agarwal in a frugal over and Jansen, after a couple of boundaries, handed David his fourth catch of the match. David wasn't quite done - after Washington raised Sunrisers' hopes again, his lazy running gave David an opportunity, and the direct hit from mid-off ended Washington's stay.