Mumbai Indians registered their 11th win in 15 matches. (BCCI Images)
Mumbai: Mumbai Indians went top of IPL 6 table following a convincing 14-run win over Rajasthan Royals in a dead rubber at the Wankhede Stadium here on Wednesday night. Both teams went into the match with the knowledge that they had already made it to the play-offs, and that took plenty of significance off the match. In pursuit of Mumbai's 166 for 8, the visitors could only go as far as 152 for 7. It was Mumbai's 11th win in 15 matches - eighth on the bounce at home this season - while Rajasthan remained third in the table with their fifth loss in 15 matches.
In their pursuit, Rajasthan got off to the worst possible start losing their top order in a jiffy. Rahul Dravid (4), James Faulkner (12), Sanju Samson (4), Ajinkya Rahane (4) all were back in the pavilion with only 28 runs on the board. Fast bowler Mitchell Johnson accounted for Dravid and Samson, while Dhawal Kulkarni removed Faulkner and Rahane.
The responsibility once again fell on the shoulders of Shane Watson, who made a match-winning 70 off 34 balls in the last match against Chennai Super Kings. However, the old trite "everyday is not the same" came true for the allrounder as he soon fell to Pragyan Ojha holing out to Kieron Pollard at deep midwicket for 19. Stuart Binny though kept Rajasthan in the hunt. After adding 30 with Dishant Yagnik (10), he was joined by Brad Hodge and both brought about a big turnaround. But despite their heroic 56-run stand for the seventh wicket, the visitors fell short by 14 runs. With 23 needed to win in the last over, Hodge fell to a Lasith Malinga yorker for 39, and that effectively ended Rajasthan's all hopes. Binny remained unbeaten on 37.
Earlier, after being put into bat, Mumbai started off optimistically with the highly-rated Glenn Maxwell, playing his second match this season, hitting top gear straight away. However, his brief stay came to an end in the fourth over as he was trapped lbw by fellow Australian Watson for 23.
Aditya Tare, who got his first game this season after Sachin Tendulkar was ruled out due to a hand injury, was joined by Dinesh Karthik and both took the Mumbai innings forward blending caution with aggression. 25-year-old Tare displayed a wide array of strokes, while Karthik played second fiddle. Their 76-run stand came to an end in the 12th over as Karthik found Samson at deep midwicket off the bowling of Pravin Tambe.
Tare joined Kathik back in the hut a couple of overs later after scoring a 37-ball 59 hitting eight fours and one six. The hosts lost the plot thereafter, losing one wicket after another and eventually falling at least 20 runs short. It could have been worse had Harbhajan Singh not scored a 7-ball 15* in the last couple of overs.
Faulkner and Watson picked up 2 for 32 and 2 for 30 for Rajasthan respectively, while Tambe and Kevon Cooper picked up one wicket each.