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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 April 2019

IPL 2019: Hardik Pandya's focus to 'make sure India win World Cup' after crushing victory over Chennai

All-rounder scores whirlwind 25 before taking three wickets as Mumbai Indians beat Super Kings by 37 runs

Mumbai Indians all-rounder Hardik Pandya, right, celebrates the dismissal of Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni. Rafiq Maqbool / AP Photo
Mumbai Indians all-rounder Hardik Pandya, right, celebrates the dismissal of Chennai Super Kings captain MS Dhoni. Rafiq Maqbool / AP Photo

Jason Behrendorff swapped jerseys and switched formats in the space of three days, but still made an impact on Wednesday night as Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings by 37 runs at home.

The Australia fast bowler took four wickets in two one-day internationals against Pakistan in the UAE last week. Then he flew across the Arabian Sea to join his Mumbai teammates for their crucial Indian Premier League (IPL) game against the defending champions.

It was crucial as Rohit Sharma’s team were third from bottom in the IPL table, having won just one out of their three previous games.

Behrendorff, who replaced fellow left-arm seamer Mitchell McClenaghan, made an immediate impact as he dismissed Ambati Rayudu and Suresh Raina to finish with figures of 2-22. More crucially, his early strikes crippled Chennai’s batting as the league leaders – chasing 171 to win – limped to 6-2 inside two overs.

The 28-year-old received much support from seam-bowling all-rounder Hardik Pandya, who chipped in with three wickets before strike bowler Lasith Malinga effectively ended Chennai’s victory bid with a three-wicket burst of his own.

Pandya deserves special praise and the Man of the Match award for his all-round exploits on the night.

Before accounting for the wickets of Chennai captain MS Dhoni (12) and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja (1), the 25-year-old smashed three sixes and a four in an eight-ball knock of 25 to take Mumbai to a competitive total. He had help from older brother Krunal (42 from 32 balls) and Kieron Pollard (17 from 7).

"It feels pretty good to help the team to win and contribute," Pandya said. "It's been seven months that I've hardly played games, I've just batted and batted. I want to improve my game every day."

Having gained some confidence from this game, Pandya said his only targets now were to "play IPL and make sure India wins the [the May 30-July 14] World Cup".

Mumbai's late onslaught built on the foundation laid by middle-order batsman Suryakumar Yadav (59 from 43).

Kedar Jadhav (58 from 54) played a similar role to that of Suryakumar for the Super Kings, except his was a more sedate innings. He also did not get the support Suryakumar had as the visitors collapsed from 87-3 to 133-8 in their 20 overs.

Victory may not have given Mumbai a lift in the table but it will have boosted their confidence ahead of key clashes. Also, they now hold a 15-12 edge in their head-to-head record against their arch-rivals.

Captain Rohit, for one, was a relieved man.

"Having lost two games at the start, every game is important," the opener said. "We don't want the headache of winning every game at the back-end of the tournament. It becomes very tough."

Dhoni, who won the toss before sending Mumbai to bat, conceded their defeat has given him and the team much to think about.

"I think quite a few things went wrong for us," the wicketkeeper-batsman said. "I think we started off well and 12th-13th over also we were on the mark, but after that there were some drops and misfields. The death bowling also didn't come off. It was slightly tough on them."

Updated: April 3, 2019 11:02 PM

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