Rohit Sharma’s magnificent half-century and a Harbhajan Singh’s five-fer snuffed out the Chennai challenge as Mumbai secured a eight-run home success at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday.
The battle of the heavy-weights did not disappoint with Mumbai’s outstanding fielding performance proving the difference between the two teams. Sharma was the hero with the bat with a fluent 87 as the home team posted 164 for four, with the Super Kings limited to 156 for nine in response – Sub Badrinath’s effort of 71 not out proving in vain for the defending champions.
Earlier Mumbai were put in to bat by MS Dhoni and it was a rocky start with Rajagopal Sathish out for a duck, the right-hander shunted up the order as Mumbai continued to search for a reliable opening partner for Sachin Tendulkar.
The Mumbai skipper was next to depart, undone by a Doug Bollinger short ball which looped up to Mike Hussey at first slip – Tendulkar on his way for five with the home side in trouble at 13 for 2.
Ambati Rayudu has been in red-hot form so far this season and he and Rohit Sharma set about rebuilding the innings with a vital stand of 61-runs before the wicketkeeper advanced down the track and was beaten by Suraj Randiv, Dhoni whipping off the bails to send Rayudu on his way for 27.
Lacking time in the middle but unbeaten in his previous knock, Andrew Symonds came to the crease with nine overs left in the innings and the Australian played a more than useful supporting role to his former Deccan teammate Sharma. The 23-year old’s display of clean-hitting was crucial to the Mumbai cause as he blasted eight fours and five sixes on his way to a half-century, at a remarkable strike rate of 181.
Dropped on 78, Sharma advanced to 87 before he was caught by Hussey in the final over of the innings, ending a stand of 87 runs with Symonds. The Australian would finish 31 not out off 26 balls as the home side reached a challenging total of 164 for four.
For Chennai Bollinger picked up two wickets but was expensive while Albie Morkel’s four overs cost just 19 runs, including a maiden in the opening over of the innings.
Lasith Malinga – having announced his retirement from Test cricket early in the day – was unable to force an early breakthrough as the Super Kings began their run-chase, but his new-ball partner Munaf Patel, after an ordinary start to the fourth over, produced a sublime off-cutter which found the edge from Murali Vijay and was snaffled by Sharma at first slip.
Suresh Raina’s disappointing run in this year’s competition then continued as the left-hander tried to force Harbhajan away only to send back a return catch which the off-spinner gratefully accepted.
From a starting point of 38 for two, Hussey and Sub Badrinath set the defending champions back on course for victory with a partnership worth 60 in good time. Tendulkar turned to his game-breaker Malinga (2 for 20) and the Sri Lankan answered his skipper’s call – Hussey spooning a bouncer out to Kieron Pollard – outstanding in the field all night – who swooped for the catch with the Aussie on his way for 41.
Badrinath continued the fight – going to fifty from 37 balls – but lost his skipper for just three and Srikkanth Anirudha for nine. The game was neatly poised with three overs left, Chennai requiring 30 runs and Badrinath and Albie Morkel at the crease. But the game was to swing heavily in Mumbai’s favour as Harbhajan struck three times in the 18th over to remove Morkel, Ravi Ashwin and Joginder Sharma to end the game as a contest.
The off-spinner’s triple blow left Chennai’s hopes in tatters, while man-of-the-match Harbhajan claimed his best ever IPL figures of five for 18.
Badrinath was left fighting to the death as he ended 71 not out from 48 deliveries, the eight run success taking Mumbai back to the summit of the IPL. Cricket365