LIVE: 9th match – Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians, Tue, Apr 14, Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad

LIVE: 9th match – Rajasthan Royals v Mumbai Indians, Tue, Apr 14, Sardar Patel Stadium, Motera, Ahmedabad

Skipper Steve Smith struck his
maiden IPL half-century as the young Australian led Rajasthan
Royals to a comfortable seven-wicket win over Mumbai Indians
in their IPL cricket match.

It was Royals’ third consecutive win while Mumbai
suffered their third defeat in a row.

Chasing a challenging 165 to win, Royals romped home in
19.1 overs with Smith scoring an unbeaten 79 from 53 balls.
He was well supported by Ajinkya Rahane (46) as they raised a
64-run stand for the second wicket.

Smith shifted gears at will as he first relied on finding
the gaps, running hard between the wicket, and when needed, he
found the boundaries effortlessly. He found the fence eight
times and also smashed a six.

The decision to bat seemed to have backfired as Mumbai
managed only 45 runs in the first 10 overs but the fiery
104-run stand between Kieron Pollard (70) and Corey Anderson
(50) changed the team’s fortunes as they ended with a
respectable 164 for five.

Pollard’s 70 came off just 34 balls as he punished the
Royals bowlers with seven fours and five sixes while Anderson
supported the Caribbean with a 38-ball 50.

Royals were steady in their chase despite losing Sanju
Samson (17) early. There were no big shots to see but under
the charismatic leader Smith, Royals kept a decent run-rate.

As has been Smith’s style, he rotated strike quickly with
ones and twos with Ajinkya Rahane finding the odd boundary in
between from the other end.

The strategy continued for some time but now Royals now
needed 80 runs from the last eight over. The biggest plus was
that they had nine wickets in hand.

Rahane was dismissed by Shreyas Gopal as he tried to
accelerate. In came young sensation Deepak Hooda and he
started the fireworks straightaway by hitting two monstrous
sixes off Gopal.

Malinga, though, sent the exciting youngster back with
his toe-crushing yorker that rattled his stumps.

The pressure built up with required run-rate now little
over 10 but Smith not only kept one end tight but also started
to score more briskly. He reached his maiden IPL fifty with
two consecutive boundaries off Malinga. In all he creamed off
15 runs from that 17th over.

Needing 12 from 12 balls, It was a cakewalk for Royals.

— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) April 14, 2015

— Mumbai Indians (@mipaltan) April 14, 2015

Buoyed by their thrilling last-ball win against Delhi Daredevils, a confident Rajasthan Royals will take on a beleaguered Mumbai Indians in an Indian Premier League 2015 (IPL 8) encounter.

Follow LIVE action.

Having won their first two matches on the road, the Steven Smith-led side will be playing their first match in their “adopted home” venue of Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera.

For Royals, the tournament couldn’t have started on a better note as they had two contrasting victories in their first two games. While the the 26-run win against Kings XI Punjab in Pune was a walk in the park, the Royals were stretched to the limit by Daredevils in their second match where Tim Southee got them home with a splendid last-ball boundary.

The IPL unearths new talent every year and the talk after the first five days has been about young Baroda all-rounder Deepak Hooda, who has surprised one and all with composure and big-hitting abilities.

The 25-ball-54 against DD has made the young Haryanvi ‘talk of the town’ and with Ajinkya Rahane and Smith for company, the youngster would be expected to blossom further. For Mumbai Indians, it’s been the worst start possible as they were comfortably beaten by seven wickets in their opening encounter against defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders while Harbhajan Singh’s individual brilliance could not stop them from losing the second match by 18 runs.

On paper, Royals will start as favourites but MI can’t be written off. Even during last season, they had lost five matches on trot in the UAE leg before recovering remarkably to make it to the play-offs. But batting has been a bit of a bother for MI, who have icons like Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble and Ricky Ponting on board to help the players.

Barring Rohit Sharma in the first game and Harbhajan Singh in the second game, the MI top-order has not performed as per expectations.

Australian opener Aaron Finch and India’s middle-order batsman Ambati Rayudu have both looked out of sorts while Corey Anderson also has been a bit scratchy despite a half-century in the first match at the Eden Gardens.

But with the likes of Kieron Pollard, Finch, Rohit set to make amends for the last game, the task will be cut out for the likes of Chris Morris, Tim Southee and James Faulkner to use all their variations and change-ups in store on a batting-friendly Motera pitch which also provides some help for spinners.

The batting line-up is also pretty solid despite the absence of regular captain Shane Watson, who was out with a toe injury. But with current combination which has Smith, Faulkner, Southee and Morris as the four overseas cricketers in the playing XI, doing well, it will be interesting to see whether the regular captain can find his place in the team.