MUMBAI: With a spot in the top four on the line, Kings XI Punjab came out all guns blazing against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on Thursday. Makeshift opener Wriddhiman Saha (93 not out) and captain Glenn Maxwell (47) led the onslaught as they amassed 230/3, the highest total of this Indian Premier League season so far.
But the hosts showed why no target is completely safe in the IPL. The West Indies duo of Lendl Simmons and Kieron Pollard came to the party as Mumbai almost chased down the massive total. And they fell short only by seven runs.
The win kept Punjab in the hunt for the knockouts. In another must-win game, they take on Rising Pune Supergiant in Pune on Sunday. While Simmons got the innings off to a rollicking start with 59 off 32, Pollard brought Mumbai to the threshold of an audacious victory with an unbeaten 24-ball 50. But Mohit Sharma bowled an almost-perfect last over, giving away only eight runs, restricting the hosts to 223/6.
Having put Punjab in, Mumbai chose Hardik Pandya to open their bowling. Though the all-rounder has been impressive this season, he was taken for 13 runs in the first over and that set the tone. Saha and Martin Guptill flexed their muscles in the Powerplay, bringing up 50 in just 3.4 overs. Usually, the Wankhede pitch has something for bowlers, but it looked like Mumbai had rolled out a flat batting track this time.
In the absence of Hashim Amla, Saha took over and batted through. Playing cricketing shots, the diminutive wicketkeeper-batsman carved out an unbeaten 93 in 55 balls. It was his second-highest IPL score.
Even as he was the mainstay of Punjab’s batting, Maxwell and Shaun Marsh (25) made sure the run rate remained high. In the ninth over, Maxwell slammed three sixes off Harbhajan Singh and scored 21 runs. The captain cracked five sixes and two fours in a stormy 47 off 21.
Faced with a record chase, Mumbai came out confidently as Parthiv Patel (38) and Simmons added 99 in just 8.4 overs. The run fest was interrupted when Guptill came up with one of the catches of the tournament. Simmons had belted the ball over long-on, but Guptill timed his jump to perfection, stuck his hand out and plucked the ball out of thin air. The catch swung the match in Punjab’s favour.
It wasn’t until the 16th over that Pollard and Hardik (30 off 13) revived hopes. They slammed four sixes, two each, against Matt Henry and scored 27 runs off the over. After Pandya’s dismissal, Karn Sharma cracked 19 off six. Even though Pollard kept Mumbai in the game, he couldn’t quite get the big shots in the last two overs to take Mumbai over the line.
Brief scores: Kings XI Punjab 230/3 in 20 ovs (Guptill 36, Saha 93 n.o, Maxwell 47, Marsh 25) bt Mumbai Indians 223/6 in 20 ovs (Simmons 59, Parthiv 38, Pollard 50, Hardik 30; Mohit 2/57).