Harbhajan Singh played a blinder of an innings to single-handedly take Mumbai Indians to striking distance of a dramatic victory with a stunning 24-ball 64 before his side lost their IPL cricket match against Kings XI Punjab by 18 runs in an exciting contest in Mumbai on Sunday. (Full Coverage| Fixtures|Points Table)
The out of favour India player, Harbhajan came out in the 14th over when his side were down 59 for six and the game as good as gone for Mumbai but he turned the match on its head after what appeared to be a lopsided contest at one stage.
Mumbai were 32 for four after 10 overs and the asking rate had shot up to nearly 20 an over when Harbhajan came out but the feisty off-spinner made a match out of the contest and his batting pyrotechnics entertained the Wankhede crowd who had remained silent for the first part of the MI run chase.
Harbhajan, who hit five fours and six sixes in his sensational knock, was out in the penultimate ball and MI ended at 159 for seven with Jagadeesha Suchith remaining not out on 34 from 21 deliveries. Suchith and Harbhajan stitched exactly 100 runs for the seventh wicket from just 37 balls in a breathtaking display of strokeplay though MI ended as the losing side.
Earlier, Kings XI rattled up a combative total of 177 for five, thanks mainly to a brilliant unbeaten 61 from 32 balls by skipper George Bailey and useful contributions from openers Murali Vijay (35), Virender Sehwag (36) and David Miller (24) after they were put in to bat.
In their runs chase, MI looked in dire straits after losing their top four wickets cheaply, including skipper and leading hope Rohit Sharma (0), and then slumped to 59 for six before Harbhajan, after an impressive stint with the ball, smashed the Kings XI bowling around to bring down the margin of defeat.
This was Mumbai’s second defeat after losing their lung-opener to hosts and defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders on April 8. It was also MI’s first defeat against Kings XI at home after two wins in the last two seasons and eighth defeat overall in 15 games in the tournament’s history.
For Kings XI, this was their first win in the tournament after losing their opening match by 26 runs against Rajasthan Royals in Pune on April 10.
Earlier, Kings XI made a blazing start, had a wobble in the middle overs against spin before skipper Bailey’s unbeaten half century helped them score 177 for 5 after being put in to bat.
After the flying start provided by Virender Sehwag, who made a typically belligerent 35 in 19 balls, and Murali Vijay’s 36 in 29 balls (the duo putting on 60 in 40 balls), the visitors got bogged down against Harbhajan Singh (2/20) before Bailey struck meaty blows and bailed them out with a 32-ball 61 not out, studded with three sixes and four fours.
Bailey, who came in at the fall of the third wicket at 88 in the 11th over, put on 46 runs for the fourth wicket with David Miller (24), which was the other good partnership in the innings.
For Mumbai Indians, Harbhajan was the most impressive bowler with 2 for 20 as he got rid of both the openers. Lasith Malinga (2/34) and debutant Jagadeesha Suchith (1/41) were the other wickets takers while Vinay Kumar was the most expensive to finish with none for 46.
Kings XI raced to 46 without loss after the first five overs, with both Vijay and Sehwag, who hit six fours and a six, wading into the bowling of Vinay Kumar to cart the Karnataka pacer to all parts of the ground.
Vijay, who struck six fours, started the carnage by smacking Kumar in the opening over for two leg-side fours before Sehwag hit the Ranji Trophy winning captain for a couple of fours, the first a lucky one off the inside edge, and a flicked six with nonchalance.
Pawan Suyal, included in the side in place of Jasprit Bumrah who did not impress in the team’s lung opener against title holders Kolkata Knight Riders on April 8, kept things quiet at the other end.
Sehwag then struck Lasith Malinga, who replaced Kumar — after the latter’s expensive 3-over spell for 35 runs — for two successive fours to help the Punjab side to race past the 50 run mark.
The introduction of spin in the form of Harbhajan to bowl the sixth over brought about the breakthrough for MI as Sehwag skied the veteran off-spinner to Kieron Pollard at long on.
Chasing the stiff target set by their opponents, MI began on a very poor note by losing skipper Rohit, who top-scored with 98 not out in their opening game against Kolkata Knight Riders, for a second ball duck, playing across and trapped in front by seamer Sandeep Sharma.
Aditya Tare was the second to go, needlessly charging at Anureet Singh and getting caught in the cover region off the top portion of the bat to make it 15 for 2 in the fourth over.
Aaron Finch, the Australian World Cup-winning opener, was the next to go when he was clean bowled by compatriot Mitchell Johnson’s second ball that he played all over and then Axar Patel had Corey Anderson stumped by Wriddhiman Saha to leave MI tottering at 24 for 4 and the game was as good as over as a contest.
Johnson, used in one-over spells by his Australian compatriot and Kings XI captain George Bailey, had Ambati Rayudu caught behind slashing to leave the hosts in deeper mire at 46 for 5.
And when last big hope Kieron Pollard (20) was caught at long on, after striking a huge six in the previous over, off Axar Patel, MI were in dire straits before Harbhajan played a stunning innings to race to his fifty in just 19 balls, with
the help of five sixes and four fours.
Johnson ended up with an impressive haul of 2 for 23. He was well supported by Axar Patel (2 for 30) while Sandeep Sharma (1 for 12) and Anureet Singyh (2 for 41) were the other wicket takers.
MI now travel to Ahmedabad to take on Rajasthan Royals on April 14 while Kings XI will host Delhi Daredevils in their home away from home – Pune – on April 15.