With just days to go before the IPL 2 begins, the Mumbai Indians decided to bring out their guns and fire them up. The picture perfect Chatsworth Cricket Ground, a 40-minute ride away from Durban was the venue for the practice match.
Nearly the entire squad, except for the Indian triumvirate of Sachin, Harbhajan and Zaheer, participated in the T20 match played between Sanath Jayasuriya XI and Abhishek Nayar XI. The other players missing were Dhawal Kulkarni, who had just returned from the tour of New Zealand, and JP Duminy, who was with the South African national team on duty in the ODI series against the visiting Aussies.
The match was a perfect chance for the young players to make their case for inclusion in the Final XI, which will step onto the Newlands ground at Cape Town in the opening match of IPL 2 to face Chennai Super Kings on Saturday, April 18.
Wicket keeper batsman Luke Ronchi from Australia provided a blazing start for Abhishek XI as he slammed 46 runs from just 39 balls. Supporting him was Essex all rounder Graham Napier who made 42 runs in 39 balls. Facing an experienced bowling attack of Dwayne Bravo, Dilhara Fernando, Kyle Mills and Jayasuriya, the relatively inexperienced players did well to post a fighting total of 159 in their innings.
The Lankan duo of Jayasuriya and Fernando picked up two wickets apiece while Bravo and Mills got one each to restrict Abhishek XI to a gettable total. But Graham Napier continued his showing with the ball too, as he snared 3/13. Jayasuriya let loose with a quick 22 before Bravo made a dogged unbeaten 52. But in the end, Jayasuriya XI still fell short by 32 runs. Jude Singh played brilliantly against the spinners, hitting them out of the ground before falling to one of the quicker bowlers.
Lasith Malinga, returning from an injury, which kept him out of international cricket for a year looked fit, hungry and bowled as if the one year layoff had never happened. Fernando was consistent in his spells and had the results to show for it. Pinal Shah had a good outing behind the stumps; the results of the South African training stint showed, as he pulled off some deft glove work. Ryan McLaren worked up a good rhythm, hitting perfect lengths while bowling and hitting hard while batting to reveal a good T20 prospect. Bravo’s wicket and fifty showed that the international players were all fit and firing, which means Sachin will have a lot to choose from.
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