Visakhapatnam : Marcus Stoinis grabbed four wickets as Kings XI Punjab’s bowling attack made use of a slow, grippy Visakhapatnam pitch with occasional low bounce to restrict Mumbai Indians to 124. Left with a target they could get to by sticking to cricketing shots, Kings XI coasted to a seven-wicket win with three overs remaining, courtesy half-centuries from M Vijay and Wriddhiman Saha.
The slowness and lowness of the pitch, allied to the discipline of Kings XI’s bowlers, made it hard for Mumbai’s batsmen to time the ball through gaps. Having to rely on muscle rather than pace onto the bat, they struck eight sixes and only five fours. Kings XI hit five fours in the Powerplay. Conditions may have eased out a touch for the side batting second, but the bigger difference was the bowling – Mumbai’s quicks, particularly Mitchell McClenaghan, gave away a number of freebies. McClenaghan was often too short to M Vijay, and offered him ample width as well, while Tim Southee overpitched to Wriddhiman Saha, who drove sweetly between extra cover and mid-off.
Where Mumbai had ended their Powerplay on 21 for 2 – the lowest six-over score of the season – Kings XI ended theirs on 32 for 1. Not a massive difference, but significant given they knew they were chasing 125.
Mumbai needed wickets, and a half-chance – perhaps only a quarter-chance – evaporated in the seventh over when Harbhajan Singh found turn and bounce to leave Vijay yards out of his crease. But the ball beat Jos Buttler as well, spinning a long way to the wicketkeeper’s left, and sped away for four byes.
Harbhajan tested the batsmen with turn and clever changes of pace, but that was never going to translate into a collapse given the batsmen weren’t going to take undue risks against him. That approach also exposed Krunal Pandya’s limitations as a spin bowler, and Saha and Vijay milked him easily, working him around and punishing the loose balls ruthlessly.