Following up a one-ball duck against Sunrisers Hyderabad, Hashim Amla dismissed pervading whispers about his modest strike-rate with his first century in the Twenty20 format, only to come thoroughly second to Mumbai Indians's personal highest successful run-chase in the Indian Premier League. The visitors reduced a target of 199 to an object of ridicule, riding on Jos Buttler's 77 off 37 to get across the line with 27 balls to spare, thus sustaining their red-hot winning streak, now up to five, at the Holkar Cricket Stadium in Indore on Thursday (April 20).
Kings XI Punjab looked in a soup, having been asked to bat first on a pitch notorious for flattening out in the second innings. The makeshift hosts had won their last two games here, after having opted to chase, but openers Hashim Amla and Shaun Marsh put inhibitions to rest with an onslaught of boundaries, giving an early insight into the nature of pitch.
Mumbai Indians' chase can be accounted to how they batted, and not to the appreciably improved conditions they would have batted in, as was the case in the last two IPL games at this venue.
Mumbai Indians were already amidst their best ever starts in IPL, and understandably went into the contest unchanged. Kings XI Punjab not only lost the toss but also Manan Vohra. The in-form batsman, who nearly got his side over the line against Sunrisers Hyderabad, was ruled out due to sickness, making for one of the four changes Punjab went in with. David Miller - 19 innings since his last fifty in IPL - was dropped, with Swapnil Singh, Gurkeerat Singh and Shaun Marsh finding a way into the side.
Bowlers have conceded about 29 powerplay runs in the first innings at Indore this season. Starting at an obvious disadvantage, or so one thought, Hashim Amla and Shaun Marsh drove the powerplay score to an acceptably good 46 for 1, something that looks minuscule when compared to Mumbai Indian's tally of 82 for 1. Parthiv Patel and Jos Buttler racked up 50 runs in just 3.5 overs, equaling the effort when they chased 190 versus Rajasthan Royals at Mumbai in 2014, their highest-ever chase before today.
Parthiv Patel fell off the penultimate ball of the powerplay, but Jos Buttler rallied on, building on their highest powerplay score and catapulting Mumbai to 100 in mere 7.5 overs, a record high again.
Unlike Mumbai Indians, Kings XI Punjab haven't quite settled on someone particular. They turned to Wriddhiman Saha today, yet again, with incumbent Glenn Maxwell holding himself back, somewhat logically under the impression that Indore pitches tend to get progressively better through the match. Though the captain scored 40 off 18, it can be argued in hindsight, that he could have walked in ahead of Saha, who struggled for his 11 off 15, given the light work Mumbai made of a target as big.
Also read: Mumbai Indians wins a low-scoring contest