Legspinner M Ashwin got 2 for 25 while captain R Ashwin conceded 26 without a wicket as Punjab kept Mumbai to 176 for 7 in 20 overs. Rahul then remained unbeaten on a 57-ball 71 and was well supported by Mayank Agarwal (43 off 21) and Chris Gayle (40 off 24) as Punjab chased down the target in 18.4 overs.
Punjab's chase started on a mixed note. Gayle attacked at one end, while KL Rahul took his own time. The plan was clear - Gayle, and everyone else to follow, would attack while Rahul will bat as long as possible.
Gayle slammed Mitchell McClenaghan for two sixes but both openers gave Jasprit Bumrah and Lasith Malinga respect. Mumbai realised Punjab were top heavy, and had Bumrah and Malinga bowling two overs in the Power Play.
Punjab managed just 38 runs, but did so without losing a wicket. Gayle then latched on to Hardik Pandya in the next over, hitting two sixes. Hardik's brother Krunal had the revenge in the very next over though, as Gayle holed out to long-on, the younger brother completing the catch.
The incoming batsman, Agarwal, ensured Punjab maintained momentum even while Rahul continued to knock it around. Agarwal targeted Mayank Markande and Krunal, racing to 18 off 7. There was an interesting incident when Krunal pulled out of a delivery seeing non-striker Agarwal wander out of his crease.
Krunal didn't mankad him though, and it proved to be a bit costly as Agarwal slammed him for two straight sixes. The left-arm spinner did have the last laugh, having him caught and bowled for a 21-ball 43.
Punjab needed 56 off 36. Rahul had scored just 30 off 36 balls at that stage, but accelerated when required the most. He hit Hardik for a four and a six, and then crossed his half-century with a boundary off Malinga. The equation came down to 25 off 24, which didn't take much effort.
Earlier, Punjab opened with R Ashwin, who kept things tidy at one end but Mumbai still got off to a flier with Rohit Sharma targeting the pace of Mohammed Shami. Mumbai raced to 51 within the Power Play before Hardus Viljoen had Rohit lbw with a full ball. Rohit was unlucky as replays showed the ball was missing leg, but he had only himself to blame as he didn't review the decision.
The breakthrough was followed by legs-pinner M Ashwin, who replaced Varun Chakravarthy in the XI, slipping in a good spell. He had Suryakumar Yadav trapped lbw with a skidder in his first over, and later had Yuvraj Singh top-edging a sweep to deep square-leg. Between the two dismissals though, Quinton de Kock got going.
De Kock hit M Ashwin with the turn and used Shami's pace to good effect. In all, he hit two sixes and six fours, scoring 60 off 39 before falling lbw to Shami while trying an attempted whip-flick. Yuvraj struggled in a 22-ball 18, but added 58 for the third wicket with de Kock.
The two KPs - Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya - didn't do much in the middle order but Hardik Pandya, like he did in the previous match, gave Mumbai a strong finish with a 19-ball 31. He hit a six and three fours before falling in the last over.
Punjab's pacers were expensive. Shami, Andrew Tye and Viljoen conceded more than 40 each.
First Published: March 30, 2019, 7:59 PM IST