The Ekana International Stadium pitch in Lucknow was expectedly on the slower side with strokeplay not being the easiest. But Marcus Stoinis’ power and shot selection stood above everything else.
In less than a month, the Australia all-rounder bettered his highest IPL score (72) and hit a splendid unbeaten 89 off 47 balls that was integral to Lucknow Super Giants’ crucial five-run win over Mumbai Indians on Tuesday.
Stoinis’ effort propelled Lucknow to 177/3 after they were put into bat. In reply, Ishan Kishan and captain Rohit Sharma took Mumbai off to flier, hitting 90 inside 10 overs upfront. But as the opening duo were threatening to take the game away from the Super Giants, Ravi Bishnoi (2/26) stepped up.
The young leg-spinner, adapting to the track, varied his length and pace to first account for Rohit (37) and then the set, dangerous-looking Kishan (59). A little while later, Impact Player Yash Thakur (for Prerak Mankad) vindicated the Super Giants’ decision. Taking pace off the ball, Thakur dismissed Suryakumar Yadav, making the latter edge one onto his stumps as he attempted the scoop.
That vital blow put the pressure right back on Mumbai. Till Tim David was at the crease, Mumbai were optimistic. But the likes of Thakur and Mohsin Khan held their nerves in the closing overs despite Naveen-ul-Haq conceding 19 in the penultimate over.
Mumbai needed 11 off the final over, but left-arm quick Mohsin, at his home ground, was spot on with his yorkers as Mumbai eventually finished at 172/5.
Captain Krunal Pandya, hobbling off the field earlier after scoring 49 off 42 balls, did a fine job with his left-arm spin (0/27) and also made the right bowling changes.
With this win, the Super Giants, on 15 points, move up to third on the table. That won’t be good news for Kolkata Knight Riders — their next opponents on Saturday at the Eden — who are lagging behind in terms of both points and net run rate.
Earlier, four boundaries and eight maximums adorned Stoinis’ knock, after the Super Giants were wobbling at 35/3 in the seventh over. Mumbai witnessed the fierceness of his shot-making when he tonked Chris Jordan for 6, 4, 4, 6 and 4 off the last five balls of the 18th over. A blitzkrieg of that sort on such a surface was indeed priceless for the Super Giants.