Chennai: The Mumbai Indians' bowling could not make up for the disastrous performance of their batting, as they lost by five wickets to New South Wales Blues in a low-scoring Champions League Twenty20 match on Sunday.
Mumbai's batting has struggled throughout this tournament, most notably scraping to a last-ball win while chasing 99 against Trinidad & Tobago. It was a similar story once again, with the NSW bowlers on top right from the start despite having lost the toss at the MA Chidambaram Stadium. Aided by some brash shots from the Mumbai batsmen, NSW were able to restrict the IPL side to just 100/7 in 20 overs.
Stuart Clark, who at 36 no longer plays regular cricket, was exceptional as he picked up two wickets and conceded just 15 runs in his 4 overs. He was well-supported by Pat Cummins (1/13) and Steve O'Keefe (2/18), who made it hard for Mumbai to score runs.
However, needing to win their last Group A encounter to ensure their passage to the semi-finals, the Mumbai bowlers gave their side hope by reducing NSW to 28/5 in the seventh over. Steven Smith (45 not out) and Ben Rohrer (26 not out) then came together to stem the collapse, before guiding NSW to their second win of the tournament by reaching 101/5 with three overs to spare.
Having played all their group games, Mumbai ended their campaign with five points from four games and must now wait to see how other results pan out before they can be certain of a spot in the last-four. Meanwhile, NSW remain in control of their own destiny, having collected four points with one match still to play.
Defending a meagre total, Mumbai tried to make a match out of it as their fired-up pacers ran through the NSW top order, with Abu Nechim Ahmed (3/23) scalping three while Lasith Malinga (1/23) removed NSW captain Simon Katich with a trademark swinging yorker.
Ahmed removed Shane Watson (3) with his first delivery in the second over, before getting the other opener David Warner (12) on the final ball. Warner had faced four balls, hit three of them for boundaries, but then holed out off a fuller length ball to Mumbai skipper Harbhajan Singh.
The asking rate was still below five, but NSW found themselves in further trouble at 30/5 in the seventh over, when Daniel Smith (8) and Moises Henriques (0) got out in quick succession to Nechim and Yuzvendra Chahal respectively.
However, that was the last joy Mumbai would get, as Smith and Rohrer built the innings slowly but steadily to take their side home. The duo batted sensibly without taking much risk, sharing 73 runs from 10.4 overs for an unbroken sixth-wicket stand.
Earlier, NSW put up a disciplined bowling effort to restrict Mumbai to a paltry 100/7. Veteran pacer Stuart Clark and left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe did most of the damage, sharing four wickets between them.
The collapse began in the first over itself, with Aiden Blizzard (1) getting knocked over by Clark, before the Australian picked up Ambati Rayudu (2) in his next over, caught in the slips by Watson. Big-hitters Kieron Pollard (8) and Andrew Symonds (9) failed once again, leaving Mumbai in dire straits at 51/5 after 12 overs.
With wickets falling all around him, only James Franklin put up any resistance with his patient unbeaten 42 off 51 balls, and his 28-run seventh-wicket partnership with skipper Harbhajan (15) helped the beleaguered Mumbai Indians reach the three-figure mark.
Mumbai's misery can be gauged from the fact that not a single batsman managed to clear the ropes once in their entire innings, while only three even reached double digits.
That was never going to be enough, and though the bowlers put up a spirited fight, Mumbai paid the price for their faltering start with the bat. The result - Mumbai's first loss in the tournament - not only put their place in the last-four in doubt, it also leaves Group A wide open, with all five teams still in with a chance of progressing further.
(With agency inputs)