Powered by a rollicking century stand between openers Michael Hussey and Lendl Simmons, the Mumbai Indians registered a comprehensive nine-wicket win over Southern Express in the fourth qualifying stage match of the Oppo CLT20 2014. Asked to chase 162, the Mumbai Indians got past the finish line in the 17th over. (Also Read: MATCH REPORT: Q3 - NORTHERN KNIGHTS V LAHORE LIONS)
There must have been significant pressure on the Mumbai Indians openers after their bowlers and fielders were found wanting in the closing stages of the Southern Express innings. However, the experienced Hussey, in the company of Simmons, ensured there was no panic early on. Both batsmen were aided by the lack of discipline from the Southern Express bowlers (who bowled as many as eight wides on the day) and feasted on the loose deliveries that came their way. Boundaries were a regular feature of the 139-run partnership; there were 15 hits to the boundary and four over the ropes during the period both openers were out in the middle.
Hussey perished in the 15th over, when he attempted to slog-sweep Sachith Pathirana, but found Angelo Perera at square leg. The Australian made 60 and hit five boundaries and three sixes during his 40-ball outing. Simmons carried on, and in the company of skipper Kieron Pollard who promoted himself to number three in a bid to surge the team’s net run-rate, ensured there were no further casualties in the run-chase. Simmons, who hit 11 boundaries and a six, remained unbeaten on 76, while Pollard (20) hit three sixes in his 7-ball outing.
Charith Jayampathi was the only Southern Express bowler who finished with respectable numbers; the 23-year old left-arm medium-pacer bowled his three overs when the field restrictions were in place, yet conceded only 14 runs.
Earlier in the evening, aided by some sloppy fielding and catching by the Mumbai Indians fielders and Farvees Maharoof’s 22-ball cameo, Southern Express posted 161 runs on the board. Several batsmen perished attempting to play the big shots very early in the innings. Opener Danushka Gunatilake made 30 from 23 balls before he perished in the ninth over attempting a big hit. Skipper Jehan Mubarak made 16 from 14 balls, aided with a boundary and a six, before his stumps were rearranged by a Pragyan Ojha delivery.
It was not until the twelfth over that the run rate breached the six run mark; Seekkuge Prasanna and Angelo Perera milked 17 runs off Shreyas Gopal’s second over. Prasanna’s cameo – 15 off 7 balls – came to an abrupt end when he did not heed to his partner’s call and took off for a suicidal run, only for both batsmen to be stranded at the striker’s end.
Farvees Maharoof walked out to bat in the fifteenth over and went about his business smartly. Early on in his innings, he made sure there was some addition to the scoreboard every time he was on strike. The sixth wicket association between him and Perera – that lasted 5.5 overs - was worth 58 runs. Perera was dismissed at the start of the final over when he was castled by Malinga; he made 28 from as many balls.
Maharoof brought out his aggressive side right at the end when he hit Ojha for a six and two boundaries in the 19th over and then dished out similar treatment to Lasith Malinga, hitting the last two deliveries of the innings for a six and a boundary. He remained unbeaten on 41, made from 22 balls, as Southern Express realized 51 runs from the final four overs of the innings to finish at 161 for 6.
The Mumbai Indians were very rusty on the field, letting slip a few catches, a stumping opportunity and conceding several runs through misfields. Harbhajan Singh, who started proceedings with the new white cherry, was the best bowler on the night, finishing with outstanding figures of 4-1-18-0. Jasprit Bumrah, Malinga, Pollard, Jalaj Saxena and Ojha picked up a wicket each.
Mumbai Indians win by 9 wickets
Brief Scores: Southern Express 161-6 in 20.0 Overs (Danushka Gunatilake 30, Angelo Perera 28, Farvees Maharoof 41*, Jalaj Saxena 1-3) lost to Mumbai Indians 165-1 in 16.2 Overs (Michael Hussey 60, Lendl Simmons 76*, Sachith Pathirana 1-26)
Man of the Match: Lendl Simmons, for his unbeaten 76 in the run-chase.
Pollard: "A much better performance. Happy with the win, but disappointed with how we bowled and fielded. When we come up against better teams, they'll murder us if we bowl and field like that. We could have restricted them to 120. Brilliant from Hussey and Simmons, and they showed their quality. I told the boys at half-time we had to win this game, and they did it."
Mubarak: "I thought Hussey and Simmons played really well. They played the percentages and hung in there after a tough start. Once the dew started, it became easier to bat. We haven't played our best cricket out here, and hopefully we can have a good game on Tuesday. The next game is a day game, so hopefully our spinners can get in the game."