Alzarri Joseph announced his arrival to the Indian Premier League in a grand fashion as his 6 for 12 - best figures in the history of this competition - helped Mumbai Indians outclass Sunrisers Hyderabad by 40 runs in a low-scoring affair at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium on Saturday (April 6).
Asked to bat, Mumbai looked down and out at one stage after being reduced to 97 for 7, but a ferocious 26-ball 46, decorated with two fours and four maximums, from Kieron Pollard propelled Mumbai to a respectable total of 136 for 7. The big-hitting all-rounder smacked 39 runs in the final two overs to tilt the momentum slightly in Mumbai's favour.
That's when Joseph took over the command and was helped by other bowlers as well as Hyderabad were bundled out for 96 in 17.4 overs. In the process, the Antiguan also bettered the record of Sohail Tanvir's figures of 6 for 14.
Earlier, there was something not right about the way Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock approached their innings in the first few overs. Rohit survived an lbw call in the very first over and then mistimed a heave on the next ball, which luckily for him Siddarth Kaul failed to grab it at the third man region.
The right-handed opener did manage a six over deep square leg off Sandeep Sharma's bowling but was caught at long on in the next over for 11. It was Mohammad Nabi who gave Hyderabad the first breakthrough and was once again superb with his off-spin. The 34-year-old gave nothing away and ended with the figures of 1 for 13.
Coming in at No. 3, Suryakumar Yadav tried to go after Sandeep but the medium-pacer pinned him in front of the off-stumps to send him back for 7. Before the dust had settled, de Kock too perished for 19, leaving Mumbai struggling at 43 for 3. The left-hander from South Africa did spend some time out there but was undone by a well-disguised knuckle ball from Kaul, getting caught at deep mid-wicket.
The moment Krunal Pandya (6) came out to bat, Kaul switched to bowling short and the ploy paid off as the left-hander top-edged a pull that landed straight into the hands of Jonny Bairstow. Playing his first game of the season, Ishan Kishan played a couple of good shots but couldn't convert his start as he was run out for 17.
The entire burden of taking Mumbai to a respectable total fell on the shoulders of Hardik Pandya (14) and Pollard and it was the former who started the attack by smashing Rashid Khan for a maximum over long on. The legspinner, however, got his revenge in the same over as Hardik hammered one straight into the hands of Vijay Shankar at deep mid-wicket.
With the scoreboard reading 97 for 7 at the end of 18 overs, the visiting side needed a blistering finish and that exactly what they got from Pollard. Kaul, who had bowled brilliantly till then, couldn't get his yorkers right and paid for it heavily as Pollard smoked him for three maximums. The Trinidadian batsman then managed 4, 6 and 4, helped by some sloppy fieldwork, in the final over to ensure Mumbai had something to bowl to.
However, apart from the last two overs, Hyderabad bowlers did a terrific job of picking up wickets and also keeping the run rate down. Both the Aghan spinners - Nabi and Rashid - did their job and so did Sandeep. If not for their last over, Kaul and Bhuvneshwar Kumar too would have had a perfect day.
With partnerships of 118, 110, 185 and 64 to their names, Jonny Bairstow and David Warner once again came out with all guns blazing. The two kept quiet didn't go after Jasprit Bumrah but slammed Jason Behrendorff for four fours in his first two overs.
Rohit wasted no time and introduced Rahul Chahar in the fourth over and the legspinner repaid his captain's faith by getting rid of Bairstow for 10-ball 60. The English batsman was deceived by the flight and lost his shape completely while playing his shot, resulting in a top-edge that ballooned to Bumrah at short third man. This was the fifth time in five innings Bairstow was dismissed by a legspinner and that also could have been one of the reasons why Chahar was brought into the attack so early.
Joseph then celebrated his IPL debut in some fashion, by dissing Warner for 15 on his very first delivery. Warner was batting well till then but got out while playing a clumsy shot, dragging one back to the stumps. Hyderabad, who have played out their powerplay overs without losing a single wicket in the previous four encounters, all of a sudden had some serious job to do with two of their best batsmen back in the hut.
Things went from bad to worse for the home team when Joseph had Vijay caught for 5 at point with a back of a length delivery. This was a perfect opportunity for someone like Manish Pandey (16) and Deepak Hooda (20) to step up and the two weathered the storm for a while by focusing more on strike rotation. Pandey, however, once again disappointed as he hit one of Jason Behrendorff's deliveries straight to Rohit at mid-wicket. Meanwhile, Chahar, who picked up 2 for 21. finished his spell by sending Yusuf Pathan back for nought.
Coming back for his second spell, Joseph kept hunting and dismissed Hooda and Rashid in consecutive deliveries to hit the nail on Hyderabad's coffin. The 22-year-old then scalped the last two wickets as well to make his and Mumbai's outing even more memorable.
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