Till the final over of the match against Kolkata Knight Riders,the equation appeared to be in Mumbai Indians favour. With Kieron Pollard at the crease and 10 runs to get in six deliveries,they were the firm favourites. But Rajat Bhatia got the big man in the first ball and things suddenly became a little too tense for the visitors. However,Harbhajan Singh calmed the nerves of the visitors with a six and then Ambati Rayudu found the boundary to help his team get over the line with one ball to spare.
The match lasted all 40 overs,or almost did,but it did not look the case at the start. Rain forced a delay,but the game was not cut short. Kolkata won the toss,chose to bat on a good batting pitch and Harbhajan was asked to open the bowling by stand-in Mumbai captain Rohit Sharma. The latter was leading his franchise for the first time after under-performing international Ricky Ponting dropped himself.
Sharmas first decision,to start off with an off spinner against Yusuf Pathan,backfired badly. Pathan hit three fours and six in the first four balls and then Gambhir also joined the party with another six in the penultimate delivery. Harbhajan conceded 26 runs in his first over,his worst performance at this ground in 12 years. The off spinner came back after 12 overs,gave away nine more runs and was not given a bowl again.
Pathan flash in the pan
Pathans pyrotechnics didnt last long as Mitchell Johnson accounted for him with Harbhajan taking catch in the first slip. Kolkatas makeshift opener,however,had set the pace as Kolkata reached 61/1 at the end of the first six overs.
That they couldnt score more than 159 even after such a flying start was down to Pragyan Ojha. The spinner accounted for both the set batsmen,Gambhir and Jacques Kallis. Gambhir was beaten in flight,while Kallis was made to drive early at one that Ojha held back a little. Johnson and Lasith Malinga held it together at the death,with the Lankan claiming two wickets in the last over.
Though the innings ended well for Mumbai,it did not start to their satisfaction,or to that of their opener and talisman. It was supposed to be Sachin Tendulkars party on his 40th birthday and he was given a rousing reception as he came to open the innings with Dwayne Smith. The giant screen flashed,Happy birthday Sachin from one billon fans. Tendulkar,however,had to wait for 15 deliveries to get the strike and he lasted for just six balls before Sunil Narine breached his defence with a fuller one that went through the gate and knocked the middle stump out.
Smiths grand opening
Kolkatas spin duo of Narine and Sachithra Senanayake were always going to be a threat but Man of the Match Smith took the responsibility after Tendulkars departure. The Barbadian made a slow start but sprang to life with a couple of sixes against Iqbal Abdulla in the fourth over. He hit three more sixes and three boundaries and his 45-ball 62 took the pressure off his team mates. When he got out in the 11th over,Mumbai had reached 82 and by then Rohit Sharma too had settled in. A 50-run fourth wicket partnership between Sharma and Pollard took them within the touching distance. But Sharmas departure in the 17th over and then Pollards dismissal briefly raised hopes for the home team. However,it was not to be,as the defending champions fell to a hat-trick of losses. The win though was welcome for Mumbai,who had come into the game after back-to-back losses too.