The Mumbai Indians picked up a win when nothing else would do as the Rajasthan Royals stumbled and fumbled while chasing down a sizeable total in their IPL 2014 game in Ahmedabad.
MI put on 178 for three in their 20 overs, with their openers – Michael Hussey and Lend Simmons – putting on a brilliant century partnership, before the spinners came to the party in some style to restrict RR to 153 for eight.
The Royals, with the loss, threw away a chance to tie for the top with the Kings XI Punjab and the Chennai Super Kings, while the Kolkata Knight Riders are now breathing down their backs.
RR skipper Shane Watson admitted the team had perhaps misread the pitch a little, with the ball turning quite a bit in the second innings and with it allowing the MI spinners to take full control.
"I think we misread the conditions a little bit, I didn't think it was going to turn like that in the second innings and their world class spinners were too good," a disappointed Watson said.
"Mumbai played very well, they batted very well. We did not think the pitch was going to change as much as it did. But it's OK we will move on from here."
The win keeps the Mumbai Indians slight hopes of making the top four alive, even if they will still need plenty of help from other teams to finish in the final playoff spot.
However, the win will encourage the MI entourage quite a bit, with the opening batters finally coming to the party in tandem. Hussey was brilliant for MI at the top, and if only the Australian had caught fire from the off in the UAE, the results might have been different.
"I enjoyed the opening partnership," man of the match Hussey said of his 120-run alliance with Simmons. "Lendl is a good striker of the ball. The wicket slowed down as the innings progressed. I have been working in the nets and hoping for another opportunity. It was a pretty good total on that pitch."
The Mumbai Indians will now have to win their remaining three matches, and hope the teams above them – the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Kolkata Knight Riders – slip up.
"It was a good win," MI skipper Rohit Sharma said. "We do not want to think too far ahead. We want to keep winning and stay in the tournament as long as possible. We played fantastically today. Posting a total like that was not easy on this wicket. It was slow, it was turning."
Realistically they will not be there come the business end of the tournament, but the least they can do is make a real fist of it in the final few games and put up more entertainment like Kieron Pollard did with a quite amazing catch in the deep to dismiss Kevon Cooper, a catch, which no doubt, will be played over and over again.