The Kings XI Punjab are not ready to fade away into the night yet. Facing another must-win game, this time the batsmen came to the fore on a batting beauty at the Wankhede, with it giving the KXIP a thrilling win over the Mumbai Indians and keeping that hope of qualifying for the IPL 2017 playoffs intact.
Coming off a win against the Kolkata Knight Riders, when their bowlers did brilliantly to defend 167, the KXIP batsmen, led by Wriddhiman Saha (93, 55b, 11x4, 3x6), turned on the style in Mumbai, smashing the MI bowlers at will to finish on 230/3, the highest total of IPL 2017.
MI made a real game of it in the chase, with Lendl Simmons (59, 32b, 5x4, 4x6) leading the way at the top before Kieron Pollard (50 n.o., 24b, 1x4, 5x6) took over at the end, but after those 40 overs, the home team fell marginally short, handing Kings XI a win that now puts them just a point behind fourth-placed Sunrisers Hyderabad in the IPL 2017 table, with one to play.
When you're chasing 230, a strong start is an absolute must, and that is what the Mumbai Indians got with Lendl Simmons and Parthiv Patel putting on 99-run partnership for the opening wicket.
While Parthiv was his usual busy self, Simmons was the one that really gave the MI innings the thrust that was required, using those wonderful hands of his to manoeuvre, power and time the ball all around the park.
The Mumbai Indians were making a real fist of this chase and as long as they didn't lose too many quick wickets, they would be there or thereabouts come the final few overs.
However, KXIP came back into the game, when both the openers fell in the space of a few deliveries.
Parthiv (38, 23b, 7x4), after hitting Mohit Sharma for three consecutive boundaries, all of them behind square, holed out while going for a fourth, before Simmons, dropped earlier on 44, off the next over, bowled by Maxwell, was caught at long-on by Martin Guptill, a ridiculous one-handed catch of the season right at the boundary line.
With two new batsmen at the crease, this was an opportunity for KXIP to put the squeeze on. They did better than that, with Rahul Tewatia, who was outstanding against KKR in the last game, dismissing the MI captain Rohit Sharma (5, 7b), before Axar Patel got Nitish Rana (12, 12b, 2x4).
Four down and with the required run rate over 14, it looked like the match was done. However, MI came back into it when Matt Henry was taken for 27 runs in the 16th over, with Pollard and Hardik Pandya hitting the New Zealand fast bowler for four sixes.
Thanks to that mini-onslaught, the equation read 56 from 24 balls, which while difficult, was far from impossible.
Kings XI needed one of their bowlers to come up with something, and that man was Sandeep Sharma, who found the outside edge of Hardik (30, 13b, 4x6) with a full ball, with Saha taking a really nice catch low down.
However, despite that wicket, the over still went for 17 runs, and after another solid over, the equation came down to 23 from 12.
Sandeep, though, bowled a brilliant 19th, conceding just seven runs, leaving MI needing 16 from the final over, bowled by Mohit. Pollard tried, but Mohit held his nerve and KXIP celebrated a famous win.
The Kings XI Punjab innings could not have gone any better.
Every single batsmen that walked in contributed, and contributed in such a manner that the Mumbai Indians bowlers were forced to go into head-scratching mode, while losing their discipline as well.
After losing the toss and knowing they had to get a really big score, the plan was clear for the Kings XI Punjab batsmen – go hard and keep going.
Martin Guptill was the main man at the top, striking a quickfire 36 (18b, 5x4, 1x6), which gave KXIP the impetus they needed.
Wriddhiman Saha, sent in to open with Guptill, was also quite fast, and with Glenn Maxwell walking in at No.3 – again, that see ball, hit ball mantra was clear – the score just kept going and going.
Maxwell did not worry too much about settling in, going for the big shots from the off, with Harbhajan Singh taking quite a beating. The off-spinner went for 21 runs in his first over, and he would end up conceding 45 in three.
While Saha went into nudge for the singles and twos mode, the Kings XI Punjab skipper kept smashing sixes at will. Even after Maxwell (47, 21b, 2x4, 5x6) fell to Jasprit Bumrah, the only MI bowler with respectable figures, in the final ball of the 11th over, Kings XI kept going.
Shaun Marsh (25, 16b, 2x6) walked in and a third consecutive half-century partnership of the innings came along as well, with Saha this time taking control, and while the Mumbai Indians bowled reasonably well towards the end, the highest score in IPL 2017 was never in doubt.
IPL 2017: MI vs KXIP scorecard:
Toss: MI, who chose to bowl.
KXIP: 230/3 in 20 overs.
MI: 223/6 in 20 overs.
Result: KXIP won by 7 runs.
Bowling: MI: Hardik Pandya 2-0-29-0; Mitchell McClenaghan 4-0-54-1; Jasprit Bumrah 4-0-24-1; Lasith Malinga 4-0-45-0; Karn Sharma 3-0-32-1; Harbhajan Singh 3-0-45-0.
KXIP: Sandeep Sharma 4-0-42-1; Matt Henry 2-0-40-0; Ishant Sharma 2-0-29-0; Mohit Sharma 4-0-57-2; Axar Patel 3-0-28-1; Glenn Maxwell 2-0-8-1; Rahul Tewatia 2-0-17-1.
Fall of wickets: KXIP: 68/1, Martin Guptill (5.3 overs); 131/2, Glenn Maxwell (11 overs); 183/3, Shaun Marsh (15.2 overs).
MI: 99/1, Parthiv Patel (8.4 overs); 106/2, Lendl Simmons (9.3 overs); 119/3, Rohit Sharma (11.4 overs); 121/4, Nitish Rana (12.4 overs); 176/5, Hardik Pandya (16.1 overs); 207/6, Karn Sharma (17.5 overs).