Pune: Skipper Rohit Sharma continued to lead by example as a thoroughly professional Mumbai Indians outclassed Pune Supergiants by eight wickets in an Indian Premier League encounter in Pune on Sunday night.
It was brilliant bowling by Jasprit Bumrah (3/29) and Harbhajan Singh (1/25) that saw MI restrict Supergiants to an unimpressive 159 for five, with Saurabh Tiwary's 57 off 45, and skipper MS Dhoni's 24 off 24 slowing down proceedings for Pune.
A below-par score was never going to pose any problems for the defending champions who surpassed the target in only 18.3 overs with skipper Rohit smashing an unbeaten 85 off 60 balls.
En route his fifth half-century in 9 games, Rohit hit eight boundaries and three sixes. The sixes were hit effortlessly in the mid-wicket region with last one ending the match. Rohit is now second in the run-getters list for the ongoing IPL with 383 runs in nine games, three runs behind David Warner (386 runs).
Having registered their fifth win in nine games, MI jumped to the second spot in the league table with 10 points, right behind Gujarat Lions, who are on 12 points. For Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the sixth defeat in eight games keeps them in the bottom rung with only four points in their kitty. Disastrously enough, they have lost four home games in Pune.
In this tournament, Rohit has tried to change his game trying to anchor the chase with controlled aggression. With Parthiv Patel (21), Ambati Rayudu (22) and Jos Buttler (27*) making small but useful contributions, it became easy for the Mumbai stylist to take his team to a comfortable victory.
For Supergiants, it will be a catch-up game from now on as they would need to win games on the trot and also expect other results to go their way.
Call it an ignominious record but if Supergiants fail to make it to the last four of the competition, it will be the first time since the inception of the tournament that Mahendra Singh Dhoni led team is not in the knock-out stage.
In eight seasons of IPL with the Chennai Super Kings, Dhoni has led the team to the finals on six occasions (2008, 2010 (w), 2011 (w), 2012, 2013, 2015) while the other two occasions ended in last four finishes (2009, 2014).
Earlier, Pune Supergiants frittered away a rollicking start as they managed only 159 for five against a disciplined Mumbai Indians attack.
While Smith smashed 45 off 23 balls to raise visions of a formidable total, assisted by Tiwary's 57 off 45 balls (4x4, 2x6), Pune failed to capitalise on the good work done by the two. Supergiants got only 66 runs in their final 10 overs after Smith helped them a set a platform in the first 10 overs which saw MI giving away 93 runs.
There was a poor phase in the Supergiants innings as they lost the momentum between overs 11 and 15 scoring only 27 runs in that phase which was the turning point.
Much of the credit should go to Harbhajan (1/25 in 4 overs) for varying the pace and carefully altering the length of his deliveries as none of the batsmen got to chance his arms during those overs. The most successful bowler was Jasprit Bumrah (3/29 in 4 overs) who was economical as well as picked up the wickets of Smith, Dhoni and Tiwary.
Tiwary too failed to get going once Smith was dismissed eventually, completing his 50 off 39 balls. Smith seemed to have taken off from where he left during his century against Gujarat Lions the other night.
He started with back to back boundaries off Tim Southee and then guided a short delivery from Mitchell McClenaghan over third man for a six. His second six was flick off left-arm slow bowler Krunal Pandya and third was an imperious pull shot off Krunal's younger brother Hardik.
While Smith teed off in stylish fashion, Tiwary was slow off the blocks but it was Krunal's second over where he launched into him hitting two huge sixes -- a slog sweep and a flat one along with a swept boundary. The 50-run stand came off 27 balls.
Just when it seemed that another half-century was there for the taking, Smith was dismissed by Bumrah, who got one to bounce a shade more as the Australian captain, trying to guide the ball to third man, could only edge it to Parthiv Patel behind the stumps.
Smith's innings had four boundaries and three sixes and he added 84 runs with Tiwary for the second wicket.
Peter Handscombe (6) couldn't get going and a mistimed sweep off a Harbhajan Singh delivery was taken easily by Jos Buttler at square leg fence. Supergiants innings only went downhill from thereon.
Updated Date: May 02, 2016 09:03 AM