IPL 9: Opening blues for Mumbai Indians yet again

IPL debutants Rising Pune Supergiants hand out crushing nine-wicket defeat to defending champions in the opener at Wankhede

Indian Premier League debutants Rising Pune Supergiants galloped to a nine-wicket victory as defending champions Mumbai Indians kicked off yet another edition with a loss at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday night.

Ajinkya Rahane
Rising Pune Supergiants’ Ajinkya Rahane slams one to the fence against Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday. Rahane scored an unbeaten 66. Pics/Suresh Karkera

Mumbai Indians have lost four consecutive IPL openers.

Set to score 122 for victory, the Mahendra Singh Dhoni-led Pune outfit waltzed their way to victory thanks to Mumbai lad Ajinkya Rahane’s broad blade that fetched him an unbeaten 66 off 42 balls after a fruitful opening stand of 78 with South African Faf du Plessis. Kevin Pietersen stayed unbeaten on 21.

Harbhajan Singh goes for a big shot en route his 45 not out
Harbhajan Singh goes for a big shot en route his 45 not out

Pune’s win was undoubtedly satisfying for Dhoni, who last week, on the last day of March bowed out of the ICC World T20 after a stunning batting effort from eventual champions West Indies at the same venue.

MI fail to thrive on toss
Mumbai Indians could not capitalise Rohit Sharma’s victory at the toss thanks to some disciplined bowling from Rising Pune Supergiants’ India pacer Ishant Sharma (2-36) and Australian pacer Mitchell Marsh (2-21). Tamil Nadu leg-spinner Murugan Ashwin and medium pacer Rajat Bhatia also bowled well, giving away only 16 and 10 runs respectively in their four-spells that fetched them a wicket apiece.

Rohit had faced only four balls before Pune pacer Ishant Sharma trapped him leg before wicket off his very first ball. Rohit’s opening partner Lendl Simmons, who played a match- winning knock in the World T20 semi-final against India, started well by dancing down the track and hitting pacer RP Singh for a six. However, Ishant shattered Simmons’ stumps in the fourth over of the innings.

In the fifth over, Aussie Mitchell Marsh sent back Hardik Pandya (9) and IPL debutant Jos Buttler (0). And when big-hitter Kieron Pollard was trapped leg before by medium pacer Rajat Bhatia for one, the Mumbai Indians scoreboard had a disastrous look to it – 40 for five.

However, some fine batting by Harbhajan Singh and (45 not out off 30 balls) helped Mumbai Indians reach 121, a score which proved insufficient despite the greenish track. Harbhajan who didn’t get a game in the recently-concluded World T20, proved that he still has the bottle to take on the best. Harbhajan hit two fours and a six in the final over of the Mumbai innings bowled by Ishant. Apart from his useful knock, he claimed the only wicket to fall for Pune — Faf du Plessis for 34.

Surprisingly, Pune skipper MS Dhoni gave senior off-spinner R Ashwin only a solitary over in which he claimed the wicket of Ambati Rayudu off his first ball.

Brief scores

MI 121-8 in 20 overs (H Singh 45*, A Rayudu 22; M Marsh 2-21, I Sharma 2-36) lost to RPS 126-1 in 14.4 overs (A Rahane 66*, F du Plessis 34;  H Singh 1-24) by nine wickets

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