Having defended 152 and 150 in their last two games, 137 proved to be stretching the optimism too far for the Mumbai Indians. Their batsmen once against failed to deliver at par potential and found themselves looking up to the bowlers to bail them out once again.
Tired of having to do the heavy lifting game after game, even Jasprit Bumrah didn't appear in the mood for another comeback. Bowling the all-important 19th over with 15 runs to defend, he overstepped twice to deflate Mumbai’s hopes.
But this should not take credit away from Amit Mishra who in the company of Lalit Yadav reduced Mumbai from 76/2 to 84/6. With the bat, Shikhar Dhawan carried his form from one coastal city to another and played a mature innings to bring Delhi to the brink. Helping him along was the experience of Steve Smith whose style perfectly suited the target and the conditions.
After Mumbai choked Sunrisers in their last game, Rohit Sharma said that they can do better in the middle overs and all the players are experienced enough to do that. When Lalit Yadav came into bowl his first over – the eighth of the innings – Mumbai were comfortably placed at 67/2. He ended up bowling a three-run over. Perhaps this and the fact that Mishra bowled with a shorter straight boundary behind him led Rohit to attempt a hoick over long-on. He failed to clear and two balls later, Hardik Pandya committed the same error off the first ball he faced.
Two wickets brought two more. Playing too close to his body, Krunal Pandya chopped the ball back onto his stumps to give Lalit Yadav his first IPL wicket. In the next over, Kieron Pollard had no clue about Mishra's googly and was trapped in front. The backbone of Mumbai’s batting - Hardik, Krunal and Pollard - added three runs in total.
Batting with uncharacteristic aggression, Rohit scored a 30-ball 44 in an innings that had three fours and as many sixes. His sixes included an inside-out shot to R Ashwin and pulls to Kagiso Rabada and Avesh Khan.
Before Lalit Yadav bowled the momentum-sucking over, Rohit and Suryakumar Yadav provided Mumbai their best start in the season so far. Perhaps giving them a false idea of a par score on the pitch. After a sedate three overs which also saw the wicket of Quinton de Kock, Rohit and SKY (before he was dismissed in the seventh over) scored 51 runs from overs fourth to seventh. The shot of the day was when Surya toyed with Mishra. To a full loopy ball, Surya jumped to make room and get underneath the ball for a lift over the offside. When Mishra followed up with a faster one on his legs, Surya creamed it past the fielder at fine leg.
But, Mishra ended up having the last laugh. He came back in the 18th over and ended up yorking Ishan Kishan. Thus, he completed a fifth four-wicket haul and dismissed the last recognized Mumbai batsman.
From the time when Mumbai came out to bowl till Bumrah’s no-balls in the penultimate over, the game was on a knife’s edge. Dhawan and Smith stitched a mature 53-run stand for the third wicket but that came off 48 balls as Delhi kept going along at a par scoring rate. Their stand came after Prithvi Shaw offered a return catch to Jayant Yadav in the second over, thus giving his first IPL wicket of a right-hander. Dhawan himself rode his luck in the first over when the third umpire ruled in his favour for a catch that Hardik attempted at short cover.
After two boundaries each early on, Dhawan and Smith hit none from overs five to eight but still managed to score at a run a ball. In his unorthodox way, Smith manipulated the bowler and the field to hit Krunal for two boundaries in the ninth over. One was a cut piercing short third and backward point and the second was a paddle sweep with the long leg square on the fence.
Acting as a stand-in captain for Rohit – who was nursing a minor injury to his hamstring – Pollard brought himself on and trapped Smith in front. When teams broke for drinks after the 14th over, Dhawan was batting at 35 off 37 balls and Delhi needed 48 of the last six. With the required rate entering the uncomfortable territory, Dhawan advanced down the track against Rahul Chahar to slog sweep a six over deep midwicket. He went back to the next to pull a half-tracker for another boundary. Trying one shot too many, Dhawan hit a slog-sweep to the throat of the deep square leg fielder.
Before the fateful over, it was Bumrah himself who gave Mumbai their biggest hope on the night. With the target at 23 off 20, Rishabh Pant could not control his cheeky urges and top-edged an attempted scoop to the fielder at deep fine-leg. With four wickets down, a struggling Lalit Yadav in the middle and mercurial batsmen to follow, the game looked far from over.
A first ball lofted stroke over the offside ring for a boundary by Shimron Hetmyer in the next over eased the tension in Delhi’s dressing room. The game went one way from then on. And thus Delhi managed to end their streak of five losses against Mumbai and joined Bangalore in the top-two spot with six points.