Aditya Tare swung James Faulkner over the backward square-leg fence for a six and scripted Mumbai Indians’ monumental win over Rajasthan Royals in the presence of a delirious home crowd at the Wankhede Stadium here on Sunday.
Tare’s first-ball six clinched the defending champion a place in the IPL-7 play-offs after being asked to chase 190 in 87 balls in order to achieve a superior net run rate. MI will now face Chennai Super Kings in the Eliminator at the Brabourne Stadium on Wednesday.
In a tense finish, diminutive Ambati Rayudu ran himself out, but as it transpired, Tare needed to hit a four to fashion an incredible win for his side. Tare’s six was a heart-breaking moment for the Royals. Earlier, it was Corey Anderson’s blitzkrieg — a 44-ball unbeaten 95 — that kept the host in the hunt. It took more than a month for Anderson to produce the big hits and vindicate his selection at the auction. His 81-run stand off 31 balls with Rayudu turned the tide in the home team’s favour.
Presented the opportunity to open the innings for the first time, Sanju Viswanadh grabbed it with both hands and put his team in a commanding position at the conclusion of the first-half. He took to the fresh challenge like duck to water. While Watson failed to find an answer to the over-the-wicket sharply-angled deliveries from Jaspreet Bumrah, the Royals wicket-keeper batsman began with a boundary shot wide of mid-on off Anderson — back in the XI at the expense of Marchant da Lange — and provided early acceleration.
The young Gujarat seamer, with an awkward action, offered the early hope for his team, bowling a run-less first over and conceding just five in his second.
The non-availability of Praveen Kumar, due to an ankle injury, gave an extended run for Pragyan Ojha in the playing XI. But, showing no fear, the Kerala batsman swept the left-arm spinner powerfully for a couple of boundaries.
In fact, Viswanadh showed supreme control over the risky horizontal shot — even against the wrist spinner Shreyas Gopal — as he directed the ball in the arc from backward square leg to the conventional mid-wicket fence.
Watson took as many as five overs to strike his first boundary shot, but departed with Pollard bringing off a spell-binding catch coming in from long-on. Watson’s downfall brought to the thick of action an in-form batsman in Karun Nair.
One would have expected the dapper right-hander to rotate the strike, but the young Karnataka middle order showed flair for strokeplay and power-hitting and he virtually dominated the second wicket stand that delivered an exact 100 runs off 57 balls.
The rollicking stand between the second-wicket pair was not only entertaining, it also began to make the home team nervous, as the Royals batsmen together hammered nine 6s and 17 fours.
However, it was the host which had the last laugh.
Rajasthan Royals: S. Watson c Pollard b Harbhajan 8 (18b, 1x4), S. Viswanadh c Harbhajan b Gopal 74 (47b, 7x4, 3x6), K. Nair c Simmons b Bumrah 50 (27b, 7x4, 2x6), B. Hodge (not out) 29 (16b, 2x4, 1x6), J. Faulkner c Anderson b Pollard 23 (12b, 3x6), K. Cooper (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (lb-2, w-3): 5; Total (for four wkts. in 20 overs): 189.
Fall of wickets: 1-34 (Watson), 2-134 (Nair), 3-136 (Viswanadh), 4-185 (Faulkner).
Mumbai Indians bowling: Anderson 2-0-14-0, Bumrah 4-1-30-1, Ojha 4-0-31-0, Harbhajan 4-0-43-1, Gopal 3-0-36-1, Pollard 3-0-33-1.
Mumbai Indians: L. Simmons c Faulkner b Kulkarni 12 (8b, 3x4), M. Hussey b Cooper 22 (11b, 1x4, 2x6), C. Anderson (not out) 95 (44b, 9x4, 6x6), K. Pollard c Hodge b Cooper 7 (3b, 1x6), Rohit c Nair b Kulkarni 16 (11b, 1x4, 1x6), A. Rayudu run out 30 (10b, 5x4, 1x6), A. Tare (not out) 6 (1b, 1x6); Extras (lb-3, w-4): 7; Total (for five wkts. in 14.4 overs): 195.
Fall of wickets: 1-19 (Simmons), 2-53 (Hussey), 3-61 (Pollard), 4-108 (Rohit), 5-189 (Rayudu).
Rajasthan Royals bowling: Faulkner 3.4-0-54-0, Kulkarni 3-0-42-2, Watson 2-0-33-0, Cooper 4-0-38-2, Tambe 2-0-25-0.
Man-of-the-match: C. Anderson.
Mumbai Indians won by five wickets with 32 balls to spare