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Rohit, Lewis batter Royal Challengers in imposing win | Cricket

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Mumbai Indians 213 for 6 (Rohit 94, Lewis 65, Umesh 2-36) beat Royal Challengers Bangalore 167 for 8 (Kohli 92*, Krunal 3-28, McClenaghan 2-24, Bumrah 2-28) by 46 runs

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Agarkar: Looks like RCB might be staring down another long season


Mumbai Indians’ first win of the season came in an imposing performance that saw them post 213 after being 0 for 2, through powerful performances from Evin Lewis and Rohit Sharma, before their spinners went against the trend of the game to tie Royal Challengers up in a steep chase.

Virat Kohli made an unbeaten 92, but it was a subdued effort for most part. It was another case of Royal Challengers’ middle order crumbling under pressure after their bowlers had struggled to keep the runs down, even with the sixth bowling option of Corey Anderson who had been brought in to replace Brendon McCullum.

Implosion and explosion

Apart from his return against Rajasthan Royals on Sunday, Umesh Yadav has brought his captain wickets every time he’s been given the ball. On Tuesday, he was rewarded with the brand new ball on a cloudy evening. Kohli said at the toss that the dampness and overhead conditions had prompted him to elect to bowl, an assessment that seemed perfect after the first two balls, both of which beat the inside edge, one of a right-hander and the other of a left-hander, one off the pitch another with bend through the air.

But after what could have been a dramatic hat-trick to start the innings was averted, Royal Challengers could not keep the pressure on. It was a pitch that thoroughly suited Lewis’ propensity to hit on the up.

Washington Sundar strayed short and wide too often in his 19-run first over, Mohammed Siraj tried too many things in his first over, which cost 16, and in both those overs Quinton de Kock allowed wides to run past him for a bonus eight runs. Despite that first over and the sixth that went for only four, Mumbai made 60 off the Powerplay.

A strange method

Mumbai’s method was effective, but peculiar. They played 20 dot balls in the Powerplay, and would play 24 between overs 7 and 15. After Lewis got to his maiden IPL fifty with a six in the ninth over, he played and missed at two balls. At that point, he had made 51 with 42 coming off nine scoring-shots and 17 dot balls. Lewis wasn’t keen on risky singles after some mix-ups with Rohit, and the pair missed out on quite a few runs when the fielders were at the edge of the circle.

Still, the scoring rate didn’t subside, compensated in plenty by sixes off every over of spin during that phase. By the time Lewis got out to a top-edge off Anderson, the third-wicket pair had added 108 in 11 overs.

Grand finish

Yuzvendra Chahal hadn’t completed his quota twice in three games this season. On Tuesday night, that would turn into three in four. With Sundar going for 32 off his two, Kohli decided to go with four overs from Anderson.

Rohit particularly enjoyed this as he produced yet another innings where a seemingly slow start was amplified into match-winning tempo – a strike rate of 120 in the Powerplay, 162 in the middle, and 239 in the slog overs. He took Anderson for 39 off 19 balls, his most productive return against any bowler, making use of the angle across him to strike predominantly through cover and extra-cover for the fours, and picked up big sixes over the leg side off hip-height short balls from Umesh and Siraj.

For all the talk of an improved bowling line-up, Royal Challengers now have the worst economy rate in the last four overs this season, 12.49. It was that kind of profligacy that allowed Rohit, starting the final over on 80, to move within reach of a century with two balls to go. Mumbai finished with 213, with some luck at the end when Hardik Pandya’s caught-behind dismissal was controversially overturned in the 19th over, after which he smacked 17 off his next four balls.

A meek surrender

Royal Challengers were never in it in the chase. Not when de Kock and de Villiers fell in the space of three balls, not through the middle overs when a brittle middle order was exposed yet again, and not during the majority of Kohli’s innings – one that took him past Suresh Raina for most IPL runs – when he showed more anger at his partners than intent to go after the bowling.

After a quick start in de Kock’s company, Kohli settled for drives down the ground, nudges for ones and twos – sometimes even off full-tosses – and shots dropped pitchside. Kohli scored 32 off singles in an innings of 62 balls, with a scoring rate of six an over in the middle overs.

Among all individual scores between 80 and 95 in the IPL, only one has included more singles: Kohli himself, when he made 34 out of 80 that way against Rising Pune Supergiant in April 2016.

Mumbai’s spinners found plenty of grip and looked altogether more menacing than Royal Challengers’ duo. Krunal Pandya’s slow pace in particular was difficult to go hard against, and in combination with Mayank Markande he shut down the batting operation in the middle overs. They went for a combined 53 off their eight overs and picked up four wickets between them.

By the time Kohli decided to go after the bowling, Royal Challengers were looking at upwards of 20 runs per over with less than half their batsmen left, and although some clean, gorgeous hits came off Kohli’s blade in that phase, the match was long gone.

Perhaps the most disheartening thing for Royal Challengers was the reality that the two batsmen who were brought in to fortify the middle order – Sarfaraz Khan and Anderson – made only five runs between them off seven balls. It was yet another challenge to the claim of this being their most balanced team.

Varun Shetty is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo


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Pakistan’s National T20 Cup – Northern and Central Punjab win on opening day

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The first day of Pakistan’s National T20 Cup saw defending champions Northern get off to a blazing start against Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Central Punjab, in the late game, trump Southern Punjab by seven wickets, veteran Kamran Akmal and 20-year-old Abdullah Shafique their heroes on the day.

Central Punjab beat Southern Punjab by 7 wickets

Shafique became just the third Pakistani to score a hundred on both first-class and T20 debuts, his 58-ball 102 not out helping Central to storm to victory in Multan. Chasing 201 after Shan Masood and Sohaib Maqsood had hit half-centuries to take Southern to 200 for 8, Central lost two wickets in the first over. But Shafique, alongside Akmal, put together a stunning 145-run stand to put their side on course.

Akmal was responsible for much of the damage during the powerplay, bringing up his half-century in just 23 balls on his way to a blistering 41-ball 75. Shafique served as more than just a support act, hanging tough even after Akmal was dismissed, and by the time he had eased to a century, the result had long become a formality, coming up in 18.5 overs. Only Mohammad Irfan among the Southern bowlers completed his quota of overs as skipper Masood switched things around in search of a way to halt the momentum.

ALSO READ: Salman Butt refuses to play National T20 Cup after Central Punjab demotes him

Earlier, Masood was one of two half-centurions after winning the toss and opting to bat, and he and Maqsood put the home side on track for a big score with a 67-run stand for the second wicket. However, regular wickets during the last six overs prevented them from quite taking off in the death overs, and while 200 was by no means indefensible, the flat track meant Central were always in with a chance. Akmal and Shafique ensured that as Central got their campaign off to the perfect start.

Northern beat Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by 79 runs

Northern began their title defence with a thumping win over Khyber Pakhtunkhwa after a 180-run partnership between Haider Ali and Zeeshan Malik propelled them to 242 for 3, the second-highest domestic T20 total in Pakistan history.

Northern opted for first strike after winning the toss, and following Ali Imran’s early fall to Shaheen Afridi, Haider and Malik combined for a spectacular onslaught. Haider hit 90 off 48 balls, and Malik a 47-ball 77, the Shadab Khan-led side crossing 200 in the 17th over. Despite all four Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bowlers being Pakistan internationals, no one was spared punishment. Wahab Riaz conceded an eye-watering 51 runs in his three overs, and while Junaid Khan did, eventually, account for both Haider and Mailk, it wasn’t before he had conceded 44 in his four overs.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa were never in with a shot, and the early dismissals of Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Hafeez reduced the chase to a damage limitation exercise after 6.1 overs, and that is exactly how they treated it for much of the innings. A slapdash 62 from Sahibzada Farhan did his personal stocks no harm, while a run-a-ball 20 from Shoaib Malik never threatened the outcome of the contest.

The wickets were shared around by the Northern bowlers, with all five of them getting in on the action. Mohammad Musa took three, while a pair each for Mohammad Nawaz and Sohail Tanvir early on effectively killed the game off. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa did bat through to the end, compiling 163, but on what was a very high-scoring day, that effort appeared exceedingly tame.



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Bengal cricketers Mukesh Kumar and Shreyan Chakraborty test positive for Covid-19

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Bengal fast bowler Mukesh Kumar and left-arm spinner Shreyan Chakraborty have tested positive for Covid-19, it emerged on Wednesday, after the state association conducted RT-PCR tests on 63 people, including 37 cricketers – male and female.

“The Cricket Association of Bengal [CAB] today held a Covid-19 Test Camp where 63 persons, including 21 senior Bengal cricketers and 16 women cricketers, were tested maintaining strict Covid protocols,” a statement from the association said. “Incidentally Shreyan Chakraborty and Mukesh Kumar tested positive during the drive.”

After obtaining no-objection certificates from all relevant departments of the government, the CAB on Wednesday conducted the camp following the approved SOPs, with CAB president Avishek Dalmiya explaining that the tests were done for people “who will be directly and indirectly involved as the association gets ready to begin its staggered gym sessions at the indoor facility within the Eden Gardens premises”.

The process was conducted under the supervision of Naresh OJha, the CAB vice-president who has also been made chairperson of the Covid Task Force at the association. Ojha confirmed that those tested included, apart from the cricketers, “the coaching team, physios, housekeeping boys, security staff and Dr Ujjal Banerjee, who is also a grade one umpire, he has been appointed as a doctor for the camp”.



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KXIP vs MI, IPL 2020, Fantasy Pick, team predictions

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Kings XI Punjab vs Mumbai Indians, Abu Dhabi

Pro Tip
No reason to look past KL Rahul, and law of averages should work vis-a-vis Quinton Kock.

Our XI: Quinton de Kock, KL Rahul, Nicholas Pooran, Rohit Sharma, Suryakumar Yadav, Mayank Agarwal, Kieron Pollard, Trent Boult, Rahul Chahar, M Ashwin, Ravi Bishnoi

Substitutes: Mohammed Shami, Ishan Kishan, Chris Jordan, Jasprit Bumrah

NOTE: We might not always be able to tip you off about late injury (or other relevant) updates, so please finalise your team after the toss.

Player availability: All players are available for selection.

Captain: KL Rahul
He is in sublime touch after scoring 201 runs in his last two innings. The last time these two teams met, Rahul scored an unbeaten 100 off 64 balls, in Mumbai. The average first-innings score at this venue this season has been 165, suggesting players like Rahul who take their time initially and then accelerate could prosper.

Vice-captain: Quinton de Kock
De Kock has to start firing should the Mumbai Indians aim to go the distance in the tournament. He started off well against the Super Kings but has had a couple of quiet innings after that. Having an average of 43 in three innings against the Kings XI, he will look to replicate that if not better it. De Kock has scored at 148.2 in the powerplay in T20s since 2018, while the Kings XI bowlers have gone at 7.33 in the powerplay this season.

Hot Picks
Suryakumar Yadav: After getting in the groove in the game against the Knight Riders, Yadav ran himself out for 47. Coming off a duck against the Royals Challengers, he will be determined to make amends in this match.

Kieron Pollard: Pollard has been used by Rohit to fill in a few overs on these big grounds, when there is not much help for his main bowlers. The 24-ball 60 he scored against the Royal Challengers Bangalore has brought back his hitting form as well. He could get you points with both bat and ball, especially if he bats slightly up the order.

Nicholas Pooran: After a couple of ordinary games, Pooran got back to his usual self with a cameo against the Royals, against whom he scored an eight-ball 25. Pooran should fancy scoring against the Mumbai Indians’ bowling attack given they have a legspinner and a left-arm spinner in their ranks. In T20s since 2017, he has scored at 167.46 against legspin and 149.41 against left-arm orthodox spin.

Differential Picks
Ravi Bishnoi: On a day when all bowlers went for at least 9.50 runs per over, Bishnoi went just for 8.50, on a relatively small ground against the Royals. He showed a lot of guile and character against some big hitting. He could certainly be a difference-maker in your team.

Trent Boult: Boult has been performing consistently for the Mumbai Indians but has been overshadowed by the reputation of Bumrah. He has picked up five wickets in three games at an economy of 7.67, taking least one wicket in each game so far.

Alternate Scenarios

  • If a fresh pitch is used for this game, going in with two legspinners may not be ideal. So replace M Ashwin with Mohammed Shami.

  • If both Kings XI legspinners play, Ishan Kishan is definitely an option. Depending on whether the Mumbai Indians bat first or second, replace one of their batsman with Kishan. Rohit has an average of 27 while chasing and Yadav 35.10, so if the Mumbai Indians bat first, replace Kishan with Yadav, and if they bat second, drop Rohit for Kishan.

  • Keep an eye out for Chris Jordan as well as he may replace Sheldon Cottrell. Jordan bowls at the death, meaning there is a high probability of his getting wickets. It can be a toss-up between Shami and Jordan ahead of one of the legspinners.



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