In the end, KXIP owner Preity Zinta’s face said it all! A match that the Kings XI PUnjab fancied to win, but an extremely lucky Mumbai Indians kept their nerves to clinch a thriller.
Seems luck was shining on the Mumbai Indians from the toss itself. Skipper Rohit Sharma did not hesitate to make first use of the Wankhede wicket by batting first, after winning the toss. Now the only thing they had to do was to avoid self destruction. On the other hand, Dave Hussey was to lead the KXIP side as Gilly dropped himself owing to a very lean patch with the bat. He was replaced by Shaun Marsh, who got his first crack this season.
And as usual, the Wankhede crowd erupted at the sight of Sachin Tendulkar walking out to bat. And he fired on crowd demand, picking up two boundaries, two booming square drives, off Azhar Mahmood’s first over. And as it has been all throughout the tournament, Tendulkar dragged one on to his stumps from Praveen Kumar in the third over. He has been doing this in the tournament so far, where he gets going, gets starts, and then plays a false shot. Tendulkar made 9 off 10 balls, MI 11/1 in the 3rd over. Karthik & D R Smith got the MI paltan to 36 in the first 6 overs. This has been the trend by the Mumbai Indians through out the tournament so far, where they score less than average in the first 6 overs, and while bowling, concede more in the first 6 overs. However, Manpreet Gony removed Dinesh Karthik, in the same way Tendulkar got out. Karthik was looking good when he played on to his stumps for 25 off 19 balls leaving MI at 43/2 in the 8th over. D R Smith was uncharecteristicly slow to pace his innings. It took him 21 balls until the 9th over, Piyush Chawla’s first, to get a boundary. Then, more luck! Smith got dropped by Manan Vohra in the deep and to add insult to injury, Rohit Sharma finished the Piyush Chawla over with a boundary. The stage was set for an MI explosion. They had managed only 59 in the first 10 overs, but for the loss of only Tendulkar. D R Smith and Sharma then decided to put their foot down on the accelerator picking up 15 from a Manpreet Gony over. But Smith fell after hitting a monster six off Piyush Chawla in the 13th over for 33 of 32 balls. MI were 86/3. Rohit Sharma knew he had to stay till the end of MI had to get anywhere close to the kind of totals they have got at the Wankhede till now. New man Kieron Pollard opened his account in the same over with a huge six, straight down the ground. At a crucial juncture, KXIP missed a chance to stump out Pollard off Hussey. With Pollard in the middle, the crowd was expecting him to explode. But it was Rohit Sharma who took the attack to the KXIP bowling, especially tearing into Manpreet Gony. In the 18th over, Sharma smashed a 28 ball 50 and then more luck shined on MI. Pollard would have been the third batsman of the evening to have dragged it on his wicket, had Manpreet Gony not bowled a no-ball, resulting into a free-hit. Then Gony bowled an over-head wide to make matters worst, but ultimately the free-hit yielded just a single. After all that drama, MI were 139/3 at the end of the 18th, way less than what skipper Sharma must have wanted. It was all down to the last two overs, and luck was by their side.
Just as it seemed as KXIP bowlers were not allowing the MI batsmen runaway with things, Rohit Sharma went berserk in the last over smashing 27 runs in that over by KXIP skipper Dave Hussey hitting 3 massive sixes and 2 boundaries. Sharma’s knock of 79* from 39 balls elevated the MI to 174/3 in their 20 overs. Still, MI would have felt that despite the hapless fielding by Punjab and the last over Rohit show, they were probably 10-15 runs short of what they would have expected. Still it was a tall ask for KXIP to chase.
KXIP lost Mandeep Singh early to a beautiful slower yorker in the second over. Punjab were 12/1. Johnson then removed Manan Vohra for 1, leaving KXIP 16/2 in the 3rd over. Vohra had just survived a run-out scare on the previous delivery. Skipper Mike Hussey was the next man in and he had an uphill task in front of him. The all Aussie pair in the middle seemed to be upping the momentum in the visitor’s pan. David Hussey looked especially dangerous and went about the chase with a positive intent, hitting a couple of smashing boundaries.
Dhaval Kulkarni’s 2nd over went for 15 as David Hussey plundered him for a six and two boundaries. KXIP managed to reach 55/2 in the first 6 overs. And just when it seemed that the innings was settling in, Shaun Marsh hit Pragyan Ojha’s first bowl in the air, and it would have cleared long-on for six, if it wasn’t for Kieron Pollard who pulled out a stunning catch. KXIP lost Marsh for 10 off 12 balls and tumbled to 56/3 in the 7th over. New man in Miller and skipper Hussey started taking chances against the spinner and even managed to hit a close six. But it was one shot too many for Hussey. He fell trying to elevate the score for 34 off 18 balls, leaving the KXIP at 76/4 in the 9th over. Though th run rate was right where Punjab would have wanted it to be, wickets were tumbling too fast. Then Gurukeerat Maan threw his wicket to Harbhajan leaving KXIP reeling at 79/5 in the 10th over. The fans might have wondered as to exactly why they were playing too many shots and losing wickets in the process, because, the runrate seemed pretty much in control. It was the last recognised batting pair for KXIP in David Miller and Azhar Mahmood who had to see them through. The Kings brought up their 100 in just the 13th over and the target still seemed possible. Despite the wickets falling, Miller was still playing his shots, as he picked up two sixes in a Kieron Pollard over. But Harbhajan struck a crucial blow and got Azhar Mahmood to top edge one in the air to Dinesh Karthik for 9 off 12 balls. KXIP were 110/6 in the 13th over. Now, Miller was the key for the Kings. And although Manpreet Gony and Praveen Kumar had proved their might with the bat, this was a much better bowling line up they would be facing. And as expected, Gony didn’t last much long and was caught behind off Harbhajan for nought, taking an ugly strike. For the KXIP, the writing was pretty much on the wall, with 7 down for 111 off 14 overs. Miller was the key and he was joined by Piyush Chawla. Miller was running out of partners and he needed someone at the other end to just stay there in the middle. Chawla then pounded a surprise six off Malinga. KXIP needed 46 off 24 and importantly Miller was in the middle for them. Fortunately, Chawla too was rotating the strike and taking risks when it was necessary. But he took a chance too many off Dhaval Kulkarni in the 17th over holding out in the deep for 13 crucial runs. KXIP were now 132/8, still in with a chance, as Miller was ended up pounding the last ball of the same over for a six. He also brought up his 50 in 32 balls with that shot. KXIP now needed 37 in 3 overs to win. A boundary by new man Praveen Kumar, brought them a bit closer. Miller hit another six in the 18th ocer off Johnson and KXIP were right back in contention to win the game. Only, Praveen Kumar had to hang around. And as often it has happened in many games in this competition so far, anti-climax!! Miller hit Johnson straight to Tendulkar at cover for a brilliantly made 56 off just 34 balls and now KXIP could only hope for a miracle. It was a tall order for last man Parvinder Awana and Praveen Kumar to get 26 runs off 13 balls. Kumar though stunned Malinga with a six and brought down the equation to 18 runs required from 8 balls. The last over required 17 runs, not impossible at all, with Praveen Kumar showing content. Problem was that this was the last pair in the middle. So it was a do and die situation for KXIP. Dhaval Kulkarni was to ball the last over. He started off with a waist high no-ball to Praveen Kumar, that went for 2 and the equation now stood 14 required of 6 balls, still leaving Kumar on strike. After a dot ball, Kulkanri bowled an over head wide. Kumar struck the next ball for 2 runs straight down the ground, leaving the KXIP to score 11 off 2 balls.
Praveen Kumar then pulled out a one handed six over mid-wicket, leaving them to score 5 off the last ball. Kumar was on to something special. A boundary would have meant super over.
Last ball was a full-toss on off stump hit straight to Tendulkar at point. Praveen Kumar’s amazing fight back was in vain. The Mumbai Indians almost lost it, yet just won it, by 4 runs.
Harbhajan (3/14), Johnson (2/29) and Ojha (2/22) impressed with the ball for MI. Although Dhaval Kulkarni (2/44) kind of messed things up in the last over after a decent start, he kept his nerve, enough for the Mumbai Indians to register a crucial win.
In the end one does wonder as to why the KXIP batsmen were in sucha hurry when they had a real chance of knocking off the target easy. For the MI paltan, the Kings came very close to breach their home fort. They would have liked a more clinical victory.