The contest between Mumbai Indians and Gujarat Lions was expected to be a close one considering how closely matched the two teams were. And, in the end, it turned out to be one as the match headed into the last ball at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. The Lions dominated the contest for a majority of the duration, but Mumbai fought back well in the end courtesy their bowlers. However, the Lions kept their cool, and were good enough to pick up another win in what has been an impressive start to their campaign in their debut IPL year. As for defending champions Mumbai, they continue to remain inconsistent, oscillating between wins and losses.
When Mumbai look back at the defeat, they will be disappointed with the fact that they did not get enough runs on the board. 143 was never going to be match-winning score, and they only ran Gujarat close because their bowlers fought back credibly, and Gujarat also panicked unnecessarily. Mumbai's batsmen have been blowing hot and cold, which has been one of the reasons they haven't been consistent. On Saturday, Parthiv Patel was the only proper batsman who got a decent score. The big batsmen like Rohit Sharma, Jos Buttler and Kieron Pollard all failed. Like Harbhajan Singh did in the first game, Tim Southee got some big hits for Mumbai towards the end, but it wasn't enough.
Gujarat's bowling was highly impressive on the day. The two Mumbai boys stood out for the Lions -- Dhawal Kulkarni and Pravin Tambe. Between them, they bowled six overs, picked up four wickets, and claimed 31 runs. Significantly, all four scalps were big wickets -- Rohit, Parthiv, Pollard, and Hardik Pandya. Some of the other bowlers also chipped in nicely even though all of them did not claim wickets. Praveen Kumar and Shadab Jakati kept things tight. Rather surprisingly, it were Gujarat two most experienced campaigners and class all-rounders, James Faulkner and Dwayne Bravo, who went for runs. Thankfully, the other bowlers had done a lot of damage.
Having been kept down to a low score, the only way Mumbai could have hit back was with early wickets. But, Aaron Finch has been in excellent form this season, and thanks to him, Gujarat got past the finishing line. As his innings progressed, he began suffering from cramps and a possible hamstring problem. But, to his credit, he kept his cool, and took his team past the finish line, even as things got nervously close. Finch got good support from skipper Suresh Raina, who did not look comfortable, but managed to put together a crucial 27. Mumbai hit back courtesy Mitchell McClenaghan, who claimed 4 for 21. They could not dislodge Aaron Finch though, and that made the difference.
--By A Cricket Analyst