A superbly judged unbeaten 79 from Steve Smith brought the Rajasthan Royals a third consecutive victory as they beat the still-winless Mumbai Indians by seven wickets in Ahmedabad.
Set 165 to win, Rajasthan rarely looked in trouble, even as their scoring rate strayed slightly behind the asking rate initially. Smith, scoring his first IPL half-century, masterminded the Royals’ run chase in useful partnerships with first Ajinkya Rahane, then the big-hitting Deepak Hooda – whose brief 13 raised the tempo of the innings – and finally the patient James Faulkner to guide his side to their target of 165 with five balls remaining.
Earlier, a magnificent partnership between Kieron Pollard and Corey Anderson had hauled Mumbai out of trouble after a dreadful start. Pollard, at his confident and beliigerent best, struck 70 off 34 balls, a knock that included five sixes and seven fours as the fourth-wicket pair put on 104 after coming together at 45-3. Anderson made a 38-ball 50 before being dismissed in the last over.
The Pollard-Anderson partnership completely changed the complexion of the innings, which looked to be unravelling horribly for Mumba. A confident enough start was derailed when Aaron Finch had to retire hurt with what appeared to be a pulled hamstring, sustained as he scampered home for a single in the fourth over with the score at 22-0.
Fine, tight bowling from Dhawal Kulkarni, Tim Southee, Faulkner and the 43-year-old veteran Pravin Tambe then reduced Indians to 45-3 in the 10th over before Pollard and Anderson steadied the ship.
Even then, Rajasthan looked to have the upper hand until Anderson was caught off a no-ball at the end of the 15th over, with the score still only 83-3. Kulkarni thought he had dismissed the New Zealand left-hander after his lofted off-drive was taken in the deep only for replays to show a no-ball. This prompted a vicious onslaught from the two batsman for the remainder of the innings.
This article was written by Tom Davies, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 14th April 2015 19.16 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010