Written by Mihir Vasavda | Mumbai | May 24, 2014 2:24 pm
Harbhajan Singh was in the middle of his run-up when Kevin Pietersen changed his stance and also the way he gripped his bat. The seasoned offie, maybe expecting the ‘switch’, tossed the ball slow and straight. Foxed by the change of pace and the loopy trajectory, Pietersen was bowled round his legs.
His ‘left-handed’ swing across the line didn’t catch the ball. This proved to be ‘play of the match’ — the decisive moment that helped Mumbai a shocking defeat, a result that would have seen them exit Season 7.
For till then, Pietersen had forced Mumbai Indians on the backfoot. The last time the Daredevils’ skipper had taken guard at the Wankhede, he had played one of the finest knocks ever by a visiting batsman on Indian soil. On a rank-turner, during the 2012-13 tour, Pietersen’s ton took England to an emphatic win that changed the fortune of the team. During his relatively brief stay in the middle on Friday, Pietersen continued his love affair with the venue. He didn’t stay around for too long to change the complexion of the game today.
While the former England batsman was at the crease, Mumbai skipper Rohit Sharma’s forehead had worrying lines. But in one stroke, Pietersen changed the game. Wankhede sensing that the home team was now closing on the much-needed win was abuzz.
The same excitement was visible in the stands at the game of the game as Michael Hussey got them off to a flier, scoring 56 off 33 balls. Lendl Simmons (35) and Sharma (30) supported the Australian well and when the Mumbai skipper walked back to the pavilion, they were headed to a total in excess of 200. After all, they had already scored 140 for the loss of just three wickets in 14 overs.
But then, their innings came crashing down. Mumbai lost their last eight wickets, including Sharma’s, just for 33 runs and were bowled out with three balls to spare.
Still, 174 looked defendable despite the fact that Praveen Kumar had been ruled out minutes before the start of the match. But the momentum had swung in Delhi’s favour and Pietersen was keen not to let it slip.
With a bit of luck (surviving a stumping and dropped catch), Pietersen led Delhi’s reply in style. His quickfire 44 had Mumbai on the ropes and till the time he was in the middle, the match looked Delhi’s to lose.
JP Duminy and Manish Tiwary steadied the ship for Delhi but Mumbai had found the spring back in their steps after Pietersen’s dismissal, doing just enough to beat Delhi by 15 runs and stay alive in the tournament, albeit at the mercy of the other teams.