Pandya brothers led Mumbai Indians’ recovery with a 54-run stand, powering the visitors to a challenging 168 for five against Delhi Capitals in a second leg clash of the Indian Premier League in New Delhi on Thursday.
Hardik (32 off 15) and Krunal (37 not out off 26) provided a much needed late onslaught by hammering 51 runs off the last 18 balls to put Mumbai in a strong position.
This was after Delhi spinners Amit Mishra (1/18) and Axar Patel (1/17) tightened the screws on Mumbai with a tidy effort.
Considering the slow nature of the surface, Delhi will have to bat really well to chase down 169.
With teams batting second winning all three previous games at the Kotla, Rohit Sharma’s decision to bat first surprised even opposition skipper Shreyas Iyer.
On the slow and low surface, Mumbai made a measured start with Rohit’s classy cover drive being the only boundary in the first three overs which yielded just 16 runs.
In the following over, a mishit for four off Chris Morris ensured 8000 T20 runs for Rohit (30 off 22), who became the third Indian to do so.
Runs started flowing after that streaky boundary as Quinton de Kock (35 off 27) collected a four and six over deep square leg and by the first powerplay, Mumbai reached a promising 57 for no loss.
It was time to introduce spin and that provided an immediate breakthrough for Delhi as Mishra bowled Rohit with a beauty on his very first ball of the night for his 150th IPL scalp.
Patel was brought in from the other end and he too made instant impact by removing Ben Cutting, leaving Mumbai at 63 for two.
Runs were hard to come by with the two spinners in operation, creating scoreboard pressure which led to the run out of a well-set de Kock following a terrible mix up with Suryakumar Yadav (26).
With Mumbai struggling to 117 for four in 17 overs, a late assault was very much needed to put up a fighting total. And that was provided by the Pandya brothers, with both going after Keemo Paul in the 18th over that leaked 17 runs.
Hardik, who is looking more dangerous with each passing game, whipped Morris for a six before pulling off a helicopter shot off Rabada in the final over.