Match 2 of the IPL brought about the first nail biting finish of the tournament, as Pune prevailed over the Mumbai Indians with two sixes off the last two balls of the match to win the game.
Mumbai were put into bat first by Steve Smith, and gave a surprise promotion to the top of the order to Jos Buttler, who was opening with Parthiv Patel. The two got off to a flying start, Buttler smashing 3 sixes, and looking in ominous form. He came up against his English teammate Ben Stokes, and responded by smashing him over long on for six, and then ramping him over fine leg the next ball for another maximum. Patel was dismissed for 19, bowled round his legs by Imran Tahir, and this caused a flurry of wickets to fall. The Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma was next to go, bowled by a straight one by Tahir, and then the electric Buttler was out in the same over, unluckily given out lbw to one he inside edged. Mumbai were three down and needed to rebuild. They didn’t really get a big partnership throughout the middle overs, only Nitish Rana stayed at the crease for a sustained period of time, and he was eventually out for 34. With two overs to go, Mumbai were languishing on 145, and desperately needed some impetus towards the back end of the innings. Luckily for them, they got just that. Hardik Pandya smashed his way to 35 off 15 balls, including 30 runs off the final over bowled by Ashok Dinda. Mumbai ended up on 184 after their 20 overs. Imran Tahir was the standout bowler, picking up 3 wickets from his 4 overs, and Rajat Bhatia also impressed with 2-14 off 3 overs. The rest of the bowling was not much to shout about though, Dinda conceding 57 off his 4 overs, and the million dollar man Ben Stokes being quite expensive in his overs.
In response, Pune needed a quick start in order to keep up with the run rate, and Ajinkya Rahane, who came in off the back of good form in the India test series, was fantastic up front, giving Pune the start they desired. Mayank Agarwal didn’t hang around long as Rahane’s partner, going for just 6 in the 4th over, but this brought Steve Smith to the crease, who has been exhibiting Bradman-esque form over the past few years. Rahane outscored Smith in the partnership, and Rahane reached his fifty off just 27 balls. Rahane made a further 10 runs, before he was caught quite superbly by Nitish Rana, attempting to pull a short delivery over the ropes, but mistiming it slightly. Smith was joined by Stokes, and it didn’t take long for Stokes to start hitting out against the bowling. But the star of the show was definitely the Aussie captain. Smith was so precise in his placement, the ball just gliding off his bat into the gaps, and flying to the boundary. Smith reached fifty off 37 balls, and knew that he needed to go big if Pune were to see it out. Stokes departed for a quickfire 21, and it brought former skipper MS Dhoni to the wicket. This situation was Dhoni’s bread and butter, with Pune needing 40 off the last 25 balls. Dhoni went about his work quietly, finishing 12 not out from 12 balls, but it was Smith that won the game for Pune. When it came down to the last over, Pune needed 13 runs to win, and with no boundaries from the first 3 balls, Smith took it upon himself as captain to finish it off. He smashed Pollard over long on for a 92 meter six, and then followed it up next ball with a whip off his pads way over midwicket for six to win the game. It was a fitting end from a fine innings by Smith, and gave Pune the winning start they desperately needed after a rough year last year.
Buttler 38 (19)
H Pandya 35* (15)
S Smith 84* (54)
Rahane 60 (34)
H Pandya 1-36