The right-handed batsman scored 60 valuable runs and alongwith Shikhar Dhawan (54) anchored the chase for the Shreyas Iyer-led side at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium. Royal Challengers Bangalore and Delhi Capitals complete the podium with 14 points each, with Virat Kohli-led side now occupying the second spot due to their superior net run-rate. Ajinkya Rahane had opened in the last match but head coach Ricky Ponting told him to bat at number three before the game. "It's a good number to bat on", said Rahane, who will be Kohli's deputy in India's four-test series in Australia beginning on December 17.
"I think we fell short at reading the wicket. We discussed all these small points in the team meeting and I think we executed pretty much well", he added. It was a challenge for me in a pressure game like this.
"We'll have to be fearless against RCB and keep things simple". Ponting stated that it since was a must-win game, he feels most proud, enabling the boys to showcase an emphatic display.
Mumbai Indians ensured a top-two finish in the IPL league table with a clinical nine-wicket decimation of an already battered Delhi Capitals, who wilted under relentless pressure from Trent Boult and Jasprit Bumrah.
A target of 111 can't be defended nine out of 10 times and the pocket dynamo Ishan Kishan scored 72 not out off 43 balls to make the chase look like a walk in the park. The duo stitched an 88 run partnership for the second wicket after the early loss of Prithvi Shaw.
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For RCB, Shahbaz Ahmed (2/26) was the pick of the bowlers. The RCB skipper has 431 runs from 13 games and should RCB qualify for the playoffs with a win over the Capitals tonight, Kohli has a real shot to win his second Orange Cap.
Nortje, who bowled the quickest ball ever in the IPL 97 miles per hour (156.22 kph) last month, sent back opener Devdutt Padikkal for 50 and Chris Morris for nought. Nortje bowled most dot balls (11) and took most wickets (3) in the match.
If Delhi Capitals miss out on a play-off berth, Iyer-Pant duo will have to accept their responsibility as premier global players in this DC line-up.
If Delhi had won the match inside 17.3 overs, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) would have qualified for the playoffs which didn't happen as Delhi took 19 overs to overhaul the target.