All star of the match
Hardik Pandya continues to learn on the job
The allrounder followed an unbeaten 35 off 20 balls with four overs of excellent pace variations on a Wankhede pitch with a tinge of green
All-star of the match
Hardik Pandya's ability to suss out conditions smartly has been one of the biggest success stories for India in recent times. On his ODI debut against New Zealand in swinging conditions in Dharamsala in 2016, he settled into a Test-match line and length and helped dismiss New Zealand for 190. He did not have a century in professional cricket before shellacking 108 off 96 balls, in his third Test in Pallekele.
The allrounder continues to learn on the job. On a Wankhede pitch with a tinge of grass, Hardik bowled 16 balls that were either short or short of good length. In addition, he varied his pace excellently to mess with the timing of the batsmen. In Mumbai Indians' defence of 181, he struck with his first ball, when his slower ball forced Shubman Gill to scoop a drive to mid-off. He could have had Robin Uthappa, too, in his next over, had Mayank Markande not dropped a sitter at mid-on.
Hardik then returned in the 14th over to bounce Nitish Rana out for 31. He angled a 138kph short ball across the left-hander, who ended up top-edging a catch to deep square leg. The game, though, was still alive when Kolkata Knight Riders needed 43 off 18 balls with the in-form Dinesh Karthik and Sunil Narine at the crease. Hardik, ultimately, shut the doors on them, conceding only six runs in the 18th over.
He had helped Mumbai stay alive in the death in the first innings as well, with an unbeaten 35 off 20 balls. All told, Mumbai managed only six boundaries in their last five overs, of which Hardik hit four.
The wow moment
The one-handed six off Piyush Chawla in the 13th over of Mumbai's innings. When Chawla tossed up a legbreak outside off, Hardik reached out for the ball, lost his shape, and was forced to yank his bottom hand off the bat in order to get close enough to the pitch of the ball. But he still found enough power to hoist it with the spin over the wide long-off boundary.
- Hardik had a smart economy rate - ESPNcricinfo's new metric to make sense of numbers in the shortest format - of 1.43, as opposed to a traditional economy rate of 4.75.
- He is currently the top wicket-taker in IPL 2018 with 14 wickets in nine matches.
Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo