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Mumbai hangs by a prayer as Lions hunt them down

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Picture Credits: DnaIndia

The last 3 games of the group stage and all 3 decide the fate of the teams involved. All 6 teams involved are fighting it out for the top 4 slots for the playoffs. The first of those three matches was between Gujarat Lions and Mumbai Indians at Kanpur. Gujarat needed a win to safely finish either 1 or 2 in the table while Mumbai needed nothing less than a win to qualify. The intensity was there but the match was more of an anti climax in the end.

Gujarat Lions won the toss and invited Mumbai Indians to bat first. Rohit Sharma and Martin Guptill opened for Mumbai. Rohit showed intent from the beginning and hammered the Gujarat bowlers all around the park.

Mumbai started aggressively but were halted in their stride with a string of 3 wickets within 8 balls to force Mumbai to slow down. Mumbai were 33 for no loss inside the 4th over and suddenly nosedived to 45 for 3 in 5 overs.

Rohit scored 30 off just 17 balls in an opening partnership of 33 runs. Jos Butler and Nitish Rana steadied the innings and got it back on the track with some ferocious hitting. Rana in particular looked in dangerous form as he smashed 70 runs off just 36 balls including 4 huge hit beyond the boundary. Butler gave him good support with a 31 ball 33 before being dismissed by Dwayne Bravo who caught a strong hit from  Butler in his follow through. They added 75 runs for the 4th wicket just inside 9 overs. At this stage Mumbai looked good to score at least 190 or even 200 but the wickets of Rana and then Pollard slowed them down in the final 2 overs as they could manage to reach 172 runs for the loss of 8 wickets in their 20 overs.

The score was not what Mumbai was looking to get while batting but 172 is no less score and that too with bowlers like McClenaghan and Bumrah in the lineup.

Gujarat Lions opened with Brendon McCullum and Aaron Finch and would have hoped for a good start but with Finch walking back on the 2nd ball of the first over for nought, they surely would have got nervous.

Nervous or not, Gujarat Lions did not show any sign of weakness as McCullum and Raina went after the bowling straight away even after losing Finch early. It was a planned move to keep going hard in order to finish up with a good run rate and it took Mumbai by surprise as they were clearly not prepared for this onslaught. The Lions got their 50 in just 5 overs and smashed Bumrah for 19 runs in his first and overall the last over of the powerplay to finish at 70 for 1 in 6 overs. They scored together a partnership of 96 runs in just 9 overs to seal the match for Gujarat.

After McCullum, Dinesh Karthik fell cheaply to a poor decision by the umpire but the arrival of Dwayne Smith at no. 5 changed the complexion of the match totally in favor of the Lions.

He smashed the 2nd ball he faced for a monstrous six to signal the times to come. He kept attacking and and did not slow down even after Raina fell for 58 from 36 balls. Smith finished off the match with Jadeja at the other end with an unbeaten 37 off 23 balls while Jadeja was  not out on 21 off 15 balls to win the match inside the 18th over and ensuring the place in top 2.

Mumbai Indians are all but out of the tournament with a slender chance of still qualifying. The remaining 2 matches will have to go their way by SRH beating the Knight Riders and RCB beating the Daredevils. This way they would be tied on 14 points with Delhi and Kolkata and would still have a chance to qualify through their run rate. Gujarat Lions have done themselves a huge favour by winnings this one as a loss would have made it difficult for them to qualify if it had come down to run rates. Gujarat have the lowest run rate among the 6 teams fighting it out.