Quinton de Kock made his first sizeable contribution with the bat and Krunal Pandya made the most of a promotion up the order to help Mumbai Indians overhaul a target of 172 set by Rajasthan Royals in Delhi on Thursday.
The duo ensured that superlative work of the pace combination of Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult didn’t go in vain, with MI completing the chase with nine balls to spare.
RR’s total, although a little short of par, was a slightly dicey target. But de Kock (70 n.o., 50b, 6x4, 2x6), having tallied just 47 runs in four previous outings, ensured he took his time before waging an assault on RR’s left-arm pace trio.
With Rohit Sharma struggling to time the ball sweetly at the Kotla, it didn’t come as a surprise that the MI captain offered catching practice to Chetan Sakariya at mid-on in Chris Morris’ first over.
But de Kock, who had gone after Mustafizur Rahman earlier, took charge, finding gaps at will through the middle overs. Once Suryakumar Yadav flicked Morris straight to mid-wicket in the 10th over, Krunal was promoted, with Ishan Kishan having made way for Nathan Coulter-Nile’s pace.
The left-handers ensured that the asking-rate never rose to alarming proportions during their 63-run partnership, Krunal making mincemeat of Rahul Tewatia’s spin. With de Kock at his seamless best, Krunal tried to finish the game in a hurry. Even though he perished in the 17th over, with 26 runs remaining, Kieron Pollard completed the formalities without any fuss.
It was the effort of MI’s experienced pace duo, combined with young leggie Rahul Chahar, earlier in the afternoon that kept RR in check. Such was the accuracy of Bumrah and Boult that RR could neither get off the blocks in a hurry nor end with a flurry. The pair conceded just 20 runs in the first four overs and a meagre 19 between overs 17 and 19, with Boult dismantling Sanju Samson’s woodwork with a perfect yorker.
In between, despite Jos Buttler and Yashasvi Jaiswal cutting loose after surviving the initial burst, Chahar got rid of both the openers before the MI support bowlers stifled Shivam Dube.