Five balls into the match, the Highveld Lions’ opening pair found itself in a dim environment. Yet to score a run off the bat, Rassie van der Dussen and Quinton de Kock battled obscurity as they were suddenly surrounded by opposition fielders who kept closing in.
One of the floodlight towers had failed. Due to the interruption, Mumbai Indians’ players stood near the pitch. The match resumed 21 minutes later as the snag was sorted out. However, a few hours later, the lights went out on the Lions. Mumbai Indians scripted a seven-wicket win to all but confirm the South African side’s exit from the Champions League Twenty20. In an increasingly complicated group A, Rohit Sharma’s men live to fight another day.
The first run off the bat did not arrive until the last ball of the second over. The Sawai Mansingh Stadium provided its bounciest track of the tournament to please the quicker and spin bowlers alike.
Three fours and van der Dussen’s dismissal in the fifth over lifted the pace of the match but it was a false dawn.
From 40 for one in five, Lions slipped to 81 for five in the 14th over.
Harbhajan Singh, Rishi Dhawan and Pragyan Ojha troubled the opposition batsmen by bowling a nagging off-stump line, in addition to extracting significant bounce. Dhawan’s dismissal of McKenzie in the 10th over was particularly impressive.
After being hit for a six over mid-wicket, the 23-year-old beat the South African with a fuller delivery and got him to play and miss on a wider one before knocking his off-stump back with an incoming beauty. Captain Alviro Petersen and Dwaine Pretorius added 59 off 40 deliveries at the end to bring respectability to the Lions’ total, but to no avail.
Sachin Tendulkar was bowled by a Sohail Tanvir slower delivery in the third over but his opening partner Dwayne Smith played an innings of remarkable maturity to steer MI home with nine balls remaining.
Lions kept a check on MI’s scoring until the seventh over but consecutives sixes over long-on by Smith off Lonwabo Tsotsobe engineered momentum.
In the following over, Karthik fell to a rising Imran Tahir delivery but 43 were added off 30 balls by Smith and skipper Rohit Sharma to retain control of the proceedings.
After Rohit was caught at deep square-leg off Pretorius, Pollard began slowly as he scored five off his first 12 deliveries. The required run rate crept to nine per over, resulting in a nervy atmosphere. However, Pollard released the pressure by striking three sixes and a four within eight balls to ensure MI ambled home.