KL Rahul made batting look like a walk in the park with a scintillating 56-ball century in his 100th Indian Premier League (IPL) game as Lucknow Super Giants pummelled an out-of-sorts Mumbai Indians to score 199 for four at the Brabourne Stadium on Saturday. Rahul (103 not out off 60 balls) smashed nine fours and five sixes to maintain his prolific record against Mumbai Indians. On way to his hundred, he added 52 for the opening stand with Quinton de Kock (24 off 13 balls), 72 with Manish Pandey (38 off 29 balls), and another brisk 43 runs with Deepak Hooda (15 off 8 balls) for the fourth wicket.
MI’s fielding was perhaps their worst in the past four to five seasons and it didn’t help matters that Rahul was in imperious form to make full use of it.
Bereft of credible options in the dug-out, it was only natural that the tournament’s most successful skipper Rohit Sharma looked clearly out of ideas as his ploy of playing an extra spinner in left-arm orthodox Fabian Allen (1/46 in 4 overs) didn’t quite work out.
Jasprit Bumrah (0/24 in 4 overs) is manfully carrying the burden but one man can’t save the team from the disaster that this season has turned out to be.
Otherwise, why would the MI skipper start with part-time off-spinner Tilak Varma, knowing that the Lucknow captain is a master player of slow bowlers.
The six powerplay overs saw six different bowlers being used and de Kock should blame himself for wasting an opportunity to score a big one on a track that resembled a shirtfront.
There were too many short balls for Rahul to play the cuts and pulls at will and also the slog sweep, and not to forget some delectable drives when anything was pitched up.
Twenty fours and seven sixes were testimony to MI’s plight and the likes of Tymal Mills (0/54 in 3 overs), Jaydev Unadkat (2/32 in 4 overs) and Murugan Ashwin (1/33 in 4 overs) tried their best but could not succeed.
Sample this: Ashwin bowled a decent googly and Stoinis hit him for the biggest sixes. Allen bowled a wicket-to-wicket delivery and was swept behind square for a six by Rahul.
Between overs 13 to 16, Rahul and company added 60 runs and it didn’t hurt their cause that the five-time champions have had one of the worst days in the outfield, not being able to cut the boundaries even after getting hold of the ball.
Not having a Trent Boult, Krunal Pandya or a Rahul Chahar is hurting MI badly and getting as many as 16 middle-of-the-road players for just 18 crore hasn’t proved to be a wise business decision so far.
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