The Gujarat Lions are in the top two for IPL 2016, while the Mumbai Indians' hopes of making it to the playoffs are hanging by a thread. After going on a calculated batting assault, the Gujarat Lions made a target of 173 look easy, leaving the Mumbai Indians needing help from elsewhere to stand any chance of defending their title.
Suresh Raina was the victor of the toss, the first crucial step that has made such a difference in IPL 2016, and from there, while the Mumbai Indians had their moments, it always felt like GL had control of the game, pushing MI where they wanted them to go, rather than the other way around.
While the final score of 172/8, courtesy a brilliant 70 (36b, 7x4, 4x6) from Nitish Rana was a strong total, once Brendon McCullum (48, 27b, 8x4, 1x6) and Suresh Raina (58, 36b, 8x4, 2x6) got going at the top, the match was over in a hurry, as GL romped home with six wickets and 13 balls to spare.
Despite losing Aaron Finch, opening the innings, early, lbw to R Vinay Kumar, McCullum and Raina went about taking full toll of the Powerplay overs, which cost the Mumbai Indians 70 runs. With such a searing start, the target of 170, looked more like 140, and while GL lost their way a little, after losing the wickets of McCullum, Dinesh Karthik and Raina, with the required run rate always under control, thanks to that early assault, there was very little MI could do, especially with Dwayne Smith (37, 23b, 4x4, 2x6) taking over the finishing duties with great aplomb.
Earlier, MI got off to a quick start through their skipper Rohit Sharma (30, 17b, 4x4, 2x6), before Rana took over in style. Despite Rohit's quickfire 30, MI lost three wickets in their first six overs, which is always a harbinger of bad news in T20 cricket.
However, Rana, with a little help from Jos Buttler (33, 31b, 3x4), made sure the scoreboard would keep ticking over, scoring at nearly two runs a ball, to drive the Mumbai Indians to a decent total. That total, however, might have been a lot more, had MI not lost their way in the final overs, when only 27 runs came in the last four overs, as wickets tumbled in a hurry.
That proved to be really costly, as the Gujarat Lions romped home, putting the Mumbai Indians, a KKR victory away from elimination.