The ebb and flow of Wednesday’s Indian Premier League clash in Mumbai eventually swung in the Pune Warriors’ favour as Mohnish Mishra’s brave hitting resigned the Kochi Tuskers Kerala to a four-wicket defeat.
With their big-name signings unable to make a meaningful impact with the bat, the Pune franchise looked to their local recruits for the second win of the tournament and Mishra, with handy aid from Robin Uthappa and Rahul Sharma duly delivered.
Chasing a testing 149-run target after Ravindra Jadeja’s 47 and Brad Hodge’s 39 had seen Kochi’s choice to bat first recover from Wayne Parnell’s three early wickets, Pune’s pursuit was soon in trouble when Graeme Smith held out to a full toss for 24, Jesse Ryder planked a poor length straight back to the bowler for 17 and captain Yuvraj Singh fell prey to the part-time spin of Hodge for eight.
Despite the frailties of their international stars, Pune were always in the hunt while Uthappa and Mishra were going strong. The pair added 42 runs for the fifth wicket at a rate of 12.60 to the over until a rush of blood to the head saw Uthappa perish on the reverse-sweep for a cheeky 31.
Parnell then proceeded to run himself for a mere single and suddenly Pune’s victory charge had a string of speed bumps to tend to.
Mishra, however, dug deep and quickly reduced the hefty asking rate to a mere canter with his 37 not out from 21 balls. Four crashed through the on-side and back-to-back sixes heaved off the wily spin of Muttiah Muralitharan promptly had the composed 27-year-old punching the air in delight at the arrival of victory with seven balls to spare.
What should have been a cliffhanger instead panned out with ease for Pune thanks to the maturity of Mishra, who bagged the Man of the Match award and praise from his oft-tightlipped skipper Singh.
Earlier, Alfonso Thomas’ removal of Brendon McCullum with the first ball of the match and failures from VVS Laxman and skipper Mahela Jayawardene left Hodge and Jadeja to pick up the pieces.
The duo’s 88-run partnership, though not blitzkrieg, pushed their side to a respectable but ultimately vain 148 for eight after seamers Thomas and Parnell had routed the top-order.
Wednesday’s win takes Yuvraj’s posse to the top of the 10-man standings with four points and a pretty healthy net run-rate, while two losses on the trot for Jayawardene’s crew leaves them second from the bottom. Cricket365