Aussie Sams is Mumbai's speedy IPL hero
Australian quick Daniel Sams is rapidly becoming a Mumbai Indians hero as he followed up a masterpiece death over against Gujarat in the IPL with a player-of-the-match winning display against Chennai.
With a little help from his paceman friend Riley Meredith, the Australian duo were instrumental in orchestrating Mumbai's five-wicket victory at their home Wankhede Stadium on Thursday.
The battle between the league's two highest-profile but currently ailing teams was decided largely by Sams' brilliant four-over display which saw him take 3-16 while Meredith chipped in with 2-27 as they skittled Chennai for 97, their second-lowest total in IPL annals.
Even Mumbai's struggling batters couldn't make a mistake chasing this feeble total as another Australian Tim David, cracked two big sixes in his 16 not out to guide them to their target on 5-103 with more than five overs to spare.
The 29-year-old Sams is getting into his stride for Mumbai, having bowled the miserly death over that earned them a win against Gujarat six days earlier.
This time, he struck early, winning a debatable lbw decision against in-form New Zealander Devon Conway off the second ball, a verdict that surely only went his way because the DRS wasn't available early on due to a power failure.
Sams then got Moeen Ali to lob an easy catch off a short one and he struck again by having Ruturaj Gaikwad caught behind in his third over.
The left-armer from Milperra was even outshining his brilliant teammate Jasprit Bumrah at the other end as Chennai looked in danger of being skittled for less than 79, their lowest IPL score also against Mumbai nine years ago.
Meredith got in the act by claiming the wickets of Ambati Rayudu and Shivam Dube in successive overs to reduce Chennai to 6-39, before MS Dhoni spared the Super Kings from real embarrassment with an unbeaten 36.
Mumbai struggled in response, with allrounder Sams' big night somewhat soured by getting dismissed for just one after being thrown up the order to number three.
He was one of paceman Mukesh Chaudhary's three victims in the batting powerplay, which reduced Mumbai to 4-33 before their recovery was completed by Tilak Varma (34no off 32 balls) and David (16no off seven).
"I just figured out that I was focusing on the batter too much and not focusing on my strengths," said Sams afterwards as he reflected on how he's got stronger as the season has progressed.
"That was something to work on at training and it was more about reflection of when I come out here, I'm going to do what I do really well.
"The whole IPL this year has been beautiful wickets to bowl on. There's some that have been flat, but there's been some that have some nice pace, nice bounce and a little bit more grass. So it's been really enjoyable.
"Obviously, today's pitch was bowler friendly so it's good to see a T20 game where the bowlers dominate."