Smith’s unbeaten 79 guides Rajasthan to seven wicket win over Mumbai

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Ahmedabad, April 15 (IANS) Rajasthan Royals(RR)skipper Steve Smith smashed an unbeaten 79 off 53 balls to steer his side to a thrilling seven wicket victory over Mumbai Indians (MI) in the Indian Premier League (IPL) encounter at the Sardar Patel Stadium here on Tuesday.

The winning runs came from the captain’s willow, as Rajasthan hunted down MI’s total of 164 for five. With five balls still remaining, Rajasthan reached 165 for three.

With this win, the Royals have registered their third straight win of the season. In stark contrast, 2013 IPL champions Mumbai slumped to their third defeat in as many matches.

Chasing a challenging 164-run target set by Mumbai Indians, the hosts got off to a modest start, but lost opener Sanju Samson for 17 in the fifth over when Mumbai’s Rohit Sharma caught him at mid off off the bowling of Vinay Kumar.

But Rajasthan didn’t let the asking rate go up, as Steve Smith and opener Ajinkya Rahane (46; 39 b, 4 x4) piled up a vital 64-run partnership for the second wicket to set the tone for the run chase.

As the duo was looking to take the game away from the visitors, Shreyas Gopal struck for Mumbai as he put the break on the run flow by dismissing Rahane, when he was caught at long off by Corey Anderson.

New man Deepak Hooda (13; 2×6), the hero of Royal’s match against Delhi, didn’t take much time to settle down as he smashed two consecutive sixes in the same over, one over deep mid wicket and the other over the bowler’s head.

But Hooda’s cameo ended when Malinga rattled his stumps .

Earlier on in the innings, Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma opted to bat first but the visitors got an early jolt, when opener Aaron Finch cramped himself up while taking a run and was forced to leave the field in the fourth over.

Finch’s opening partner Parthiv Patel (16), who opened the innings in place of skipper Rohit Sharma, departed in the fifth over.

The 2013 champions found themselves in more trouble when skipper Rohit who dropped himself two places down the batting order didn’t trouble the scorers (out for zero in the second successive match) as he was caught at first slip by Steve Smith while attempting to hit a wide delivery of the bowling of Stuart Binny.

With his dismissal, came in Anderson. At the other end, a struggling Unmukt Chand (12) was clean bowled by Pravin Tambe. Mumbai were then 45/3 in 9.5 overs.

Pollard walked in next, and changed the complexion of the game by authoring a 104-run stand with Anderson (50; 38 b, 5 fours, 3 sixes). Pollard (70; 34 b, 7×4, 5×6) smashed the ball to all parts of the ground to provide a breezy momentum to the Mumbai Indians.

Anderson was earlier caught of the bowling of Kulkarni when he was batting on 23 but the delivery was judged a no ball.

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