Mumbai Indians 186 for 8 (Pollard 50, Krunal 32, Tye 4-16) beat Kings XI Punjab 183 for 5 (Rahul 94, Finch 46, Bumrah 3-15) by three runs
Mumbai Indians had so much to overcome. First, they were asked to bat in favourable chasing conditions. Then, Andrew Tye claimed his third four-for in four games, his 4 for 16 limiting Mumbai to 186. And then another excellently paced chase from KL Rahul put Mumbai on the brink of elimination. Faced with all that adversity, Mumbai needed both skill and luck. They were blessed to have two key players, Jasprit Bumrah and Kieron Pollard, performing at their best.
Bumrah finished with 3 for 15, but the coup de grace came in his final over, the penultimate of the game. With 22 runs to defend off 12 balls, he conceded just six and had Rahul caught at long-off. Mitchell McClenaghan did just enough in the final over to ensure a three-run win, carrying Mumbai's fight into the final weekend of the regular season.
But it was Pollard, brought back into Mumbai's side, that stunned Kings XI with a 23-ball 50. He ensured Mumbai had enough to defend and gave them just enough room for error.
Aiming for above par
After losing the toss, Mumbai may have reset their target, aiming for more than par to make up for favourable chasing conditions: small boundaries and the plausibility of dew in the second innings. That may have forced their top order to not only attack from the outset, but remain aggressive irrespective of the start. With a strong middle order, it was the right decision in a must-win game.
Even though Evin Lewis was bowled for 9, Suryakumar Yadav and Ishan Kishan's attacking intent ensured the run rate didn't slip. Together, they faced 27 balls and hit four fours and four sixes, putting Mumbai on course. But there was always the chance of additional risk resulting in wickets.
Kishan was caught at mid-on, attempting to heave Tye across the line. Suryakumar was caught behind off the thigh pad off the next ball. And when Rohit Sharma's mistimed pull found mid-on, Mumbai were caught in an awkward position at 71 for 4 in the ninth over. Most of Mumbai's problems were down to Tye's unique skill - swerving knuckle balls - which forced them to reassess their innings.
Keeping with Mumbai's modus operandi, Krunal Pandya and Pollard too showed no inclination to take their innings deep. After a five-minute delay due to a floodlight failure and a six-run 11th over, Krunal chipped a six over fine leg. Nine boundaries followed in 22 balls and Mumbai were back on track again.
Again, at no point did Mumbai change tactics. That approach, however, resulted in four wickets in five overs and a significant loss of momentum. Eventually, Mumbai scored just 35 runs in the last five overs, but with 186, they were above par anyway.
A chase that slipped away
This season, Rahul has shown his ability to pace a T20 chase. Aware of Kings XI's depleted resources in the middle order, Aaron Finch and Rahul didn't go all-out in the middle overs, taking only calculated risks or capitalising on errant deliveries to keep Kings XI alive. Their tactic worked. With 60 required off the last five overs, Kings XI had a fair chance.
Rahul and Finch took Mayank Markande's third over, the 16th of the innings, for 18 runs. Suddenly, an equation of 42 off 24 gave Kings XI more than fair chance. But Bumrah's excellent final spell, 2-0-10-3, and wickets at inopportune moments meant Kings XI's playoffs chances took a heavy beating.