Match Report – MI vs RR 14th Match, April 01, 2024

Rajasthan Royals 127 for 4 (Parag 54*, Madhwal 3-20) beat Mumbai Indians 125 for 9 (Hardik 34, Tilak 32, Chahal 3-11, Boult 3-22, Burger 2-32) by six wickets

Hardik Pandya’s return to the Wankhede Stadium as Mumbai Indians captain was far from a fairy tale, as the five-time champions lost their third game in a row, this time with 27 balls to spare. Rajasthan Royals – led by superb performances from Trent Boult, Yuzvendra Chahal and Riyan Parag – gave them a thorough hammering to move to No. 1 on the points table with a hat-trick of victories.

Boult left Mumbai gasping within minutes of the start of the match when he dismissed Rohit Sharma, Naman Dhir and Dewald Brevis for first-ball ducks in his first eight balls. His 3 for 22 was only matched by the 3 for 11 taken by Chahal, who controlled the middle overs to ensure Mumbai did not stage a batting comeback.

Chasing 126 for victory, Parag dragged Royals out of some early trouble and shepherded the chase. He finished the game with six, six, and four to stay unbeaten on 54 to take the No. 1 spot on the orange cap leaderboard – tied on runs with Virat Kohli but ahead of strike rate.

Boult sets up the demolition job

Rohit had all the support from the crowd, which chanted his name even as they booed Hardik, but his time with the bat lasted only one ball when Boult got one to swing away from him and get him to edge it behind. Next ball, Boult swung it the other way, getting a full ball to nip into Dhir.

With two wickets gone inside the game’s first six balls, Mumbai brought in impact sub Brevis in the second over itself, but he too fell prey to the ball angling across, edging it to Nandre Burger at short third.

With three wickets in his first eight deliveries of the game, Boult gave Royals an advantage that they never let go. He finished with 3 for 22.

Scintillating Chahal

After Boult’s searing opening spell, Burger got in on the action. Playing as a replacement for the injured Sandeep Sharma, Burger came around the wicket to pick off Ishan Kishan with a length ball that angled away and took his edge.

With Mumbai Indians 20 for 4 in three-and-a-half overs, Tilak Varma and Hardik looked to build a recovery, almost succeeding with a 56-run fifth-wicket stand, but Chahal dismissed both batters to snuff out any chance of a comeback.

After hitting six boundaries early in his innings, Hardik fell on 34 when he holed out at mid-on trying to hit Chahal. Tilak was sent packing on 32 soon after when Chahal’s googly was edged to R Ashwin at short third.

Chahal finished his spell with the wicket of Gerald Coetzee late in the innings. In all, 16 of Chahal’s 24 deliveries were dots, and his four-over spell ended with an economy of only 2.75.

A late wicket for Avesh Khan and a second for Burger ensured Mumbai finished on 125 for 9, a score too low on a surface that is traditionally batting-friendly.

Madhwal comes good on season debut

Only wickets could save Mumbai after that batting effort, and they played their trump card early when Jasprit Bumrah shared the new ball, with Kwena Maphaka, for the first time this season.

But even though Bumrah bowled three of the six powerplay overs, the Royals batters did not give a wicket away to him. Yashasvi Jaiswal fell to Maphaka in the first over itself, while the other three wickets went to Akash Madhwal, playing his first game of IPL 2024.

Madhwal struck with the second ball of his spell when he got Sanju Samson to chop on to his stumps, and added a second when Jos Buttler pulled him to fine leg. He added a third later, in the 13th over, when Ashwin sent a leading edge off a short delivery to point. Madhwal was the standout bowler for Mumbai Indians with 3 for 20.

Parag’s form continues

Parag walked in ranked No. 5 on the orange cap list and finished the day with the cap on his head. With no real scoreboard pressure on this occasion, No. 4 Parag played risk-free cricket early on, but tore into Coetzee with four fours and two sixes.

It all started with back-to-back boundaries off Coetzee in the eighth over, followed by another lofted four over the covers in the 11th. He then smoked Bumrah through mid-off in the 14th over before depositing Piyush Chawla over long-on in the 15th.

Parag then put the finishing touches on the result by hammering Coetzee for 16 runs off the first three balls of the 16th over. The first ball went for a clubbed six over the covers, and he reached his fifty next ball with a slog over midwicket. The winning runs came over wicketkeeper Kishan’s head and sent Royals and Mumbai Indians to opposite ends of the points table.

Sreshth Shah is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @sreshthx

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