On the same day that Gurunath Meiyappan was chargesheeted by the Mumbai Police for being involved in betting in connection with IPL 6, the CLT20 kicked off with the big clash between Mumbai Indians and the Rajasthan Royals. The Royals themselves were under pressure, as two of their players were recently handed life bans by the BCCI for their involvement in spot-fixing during IPL 6. The best thing to happen to the Royals was the fact that they were playing at home. They remained unbeaten at home throughout the IPL, and they put up an impressive performance to continue their winning streak.
Well begun is half done they say, and the Royals proved the adage right once again. Having chosen to field first having won the toss on the pitch that had a fair amount of green tinge, the Royals’ bowlers needed to take advantage of the same. And, thankfully for Rahul Dravid, they did exactly that. Ironically, the star of the show for the Royals with the ball was medium pacer Vikramjeet Malik, who might not have even been playing in the starting eleven had Siddharth Trivedi not been suspended for not reporting approach by bookies and admitting to taking money from them.
To his credit, Malik utilised his opportunity very adeptly. He ran in hard and hit the deck, and was rewarded suitably. The wickets of Dwayne Smith and Dinesh Karthik, both of whom had a reasonable IPL campaign, went to Malik cheaply, and were extremely crucial in the context of the game since it prevented Mumbai from getting a flowing start. There were plenty of hopes from veteran Sachin Tendulkar, but he continued his poor form with another low score, and his dismissal put Mumbai further on the back foot.
When Ambati Rayudu was run out early too, Mumbai were in dire straits. What the visitors needed were a couple of good partnerships to get them to a decent score. Skipper Rohit Sharma and Kieron Pollard batted very fluently during their alliance, they had to be a bit cautious since plenty of damage had already been done. While Sharma was impressive during his stay at the crease, his dismissal came at the wrong moment for Mumbai. Going into the last few overs, Mumbai would have loved two set batsmen, but Sharma departed, leaving Pollard to do all the big hitting at the end.
Chasing seven runs an over, the Royals needed only a couple of batsmen to get their eye in and bat for a decent amount of time. The early loss of Rahul Dravid gave Mumbai hope, but they were dealt a big blow when Sanju Samson was given not in spite of being trapped plumb in front. It was possibly Mumbai’s only chance of putting the Royals under pressure. As it turned out, Samson rode his luck to a half-century and after he departed, Shane Watson and Stuart Binny did the rest. Mumbai may consider themselves unlucky on the Samson front, but overall the Royals were definitely the better of the two sides on the day.
--By A Cricket Analyst