Mumbai Indians 164 for 4 beat Chennai Super Kings 156 for 9 by eight runs
Man of the Match: Harbhajan Singh
Harbhajan Singh picked up three wickets in one over to quell Chennai Super Kings challenge completely against the Mumbai Indians at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday. The off spinner’s deciding over was the 18th over of the match, and until then, it was anybody’s game thanks to a superb innings by Subramaniam Badrinath, who remained unbeaten on a brilliantly compiled 71 off 48 balls, but his team fell short of victory by eight runs. Earlier, in the day, Rohit Sharma played a rare knock that did complete justice to his abundant talent, caressing the ball with ease en route to his 48 ball 87, a potential man of the match performance but for the antics of Harbhajan later in the day. The Mumbai Indians were also exceptional with their fielding, which only added to the pressure on the Super Kings, who eventually succumbed.
Coming back to the Harbhajan over, chasing 165 the Super Kings were 136 for 5 in the 18th over and looked like they would easily coast to a win. However, Albie Morkel fell off the second ball of the over, his slog sweep only making contact with thin air as the ball breached the bat and crashed into the middle stump. That was the beginning of the end. Ravichandran Ashwin, trying to clear the field himself after facing one ball, instead of giving back the strike to his well-set mate, perished giving a catch in the deep. And to make matters worse, Joginder Sharma hit one up in the air the very next ball to offer Harbhajan his third wicket of the over and fifth overall. A helpless Badrinath could only watch from the other end as one after the other his partners departed. Sachin Tendulkar smartly brought Lasith Malinga on in the next over to ensure the game was put beyond Chennai’s reach. And despite, Badrinath’s best efforts, including a six in the last over, the target was beyond reach for Chennai.
Earlier, in the innings as well, Malinga and Harbhajan were responsible for keeping Mumbai ahead of the game by striking crucial blows. Malinga got rid of the dangerous looking Michael Hussey, who had unhurriedly rushed to 41 off 33 balls and was threatening to take the game away from the Mumbai Indians. However, a brilliant piece of catching cut short his innings and brought Mumbai back in the game. Harbhajan, at the other end, got the big scalps of Suresh Raina and Srikkanth Aniruddha to start the Chennai collapse. At the fall of Aniruddha’s wicket, Chennai were 123 for 5 and things only got worse for them, with Harbhajan scalping three more and Malinga added a wicket to his kitty as well.
Harbhajan’s effort pretty much overshadowed the one by Rohit Sharma earlier in the day. His contribution was equally crucial to the team’s cause though. Mumbai had lost their openers Rajgopal Satish and skipper Sachin Tendulkar to great deliveries under seam-friendly conditions earlier in the day. But, on this day, Rohit was unfazed. Of course, he was aided by some poor bowling as he was offered three boundary balls in his first four balls and accepted all of them – the wicket-takers Doug Bollinger and Albie Morkel being the guilty party. That got Rohit off, setting the tone for his innings, and he never looked back.
Rohit found solid company in the form of Ambati Rayudu, with him he did the repair job with great élan. Rayudu is a special talent himself, but this Mumbai innings was all about Rohit. He was severe in his gentle manner on every bowler. Joginder Sharma’s half volleys were dispatched, Suraj Randiv’s flighted spinners were lofted with ease and the penultimate over from Suresh Raina went all over the park. Rohit deposited him over long on, slog swept him and banged him over midwicket as 17 runs were added to the total. At the other end, Andrew Symonds also took charge, slamming two huge sixes in his unbeaten knock of 31. But, even Symonds brutality paled in comparison to Rohit’s sublime knock, which indicated why the Indian selectors have been so exasperated by his underperforming was. He is special talent for sure, but he needs to deliver more knocks like the one on a good Friday.
Royal Challengers Bangalore 175 for 1 beat Kolkata Knight Riders 171 for 5 by nine wickets
Man of the match: Chris Gayle
Chris Gayle arrived, he slammed the ball and he conquered the Kolkata Knight Riders. Yes, that in short was the tale of the game between Shah Rukh Khan’s team and the Vijay Mallya owned franchise. Flown in as a replacement for the injured bowler Dirk Nannes, Gayle batted as if he had a point to prove to his former team, bludgeoning 102 off 55 balls, inclusive of seven huge sixes to make a mockery of KKR’s challenging target of 171. It was a win the Royal Challengers were desperately seeking and Gayle addition certain has come as a force to be reckoned with for the Challengers, making one wonder how he wasn’t selected in the initial auctions, and even more surprisingly, how he was left out of the West Indies squad.
That topic can be discussed on a later day, but on Friday, it was all about Gayle massacring the Kolkata bowlers, but Gautam Gambhir forced to sit back and watch in dazzled amazement. He featured in two partnerships with Tillakaratne Dilshan and Virat Kohli and dominated both. Dilshan it was who began as the aggressor taking on Yusuf Pathan, who opened the innings on a tricky pitch. But once Gayle got his eye in, it was all him, but even the aggressive Dilshan happy playing second fiddle.
He began by whacking the left arm seam of Jaidev Unadkat for six well over long-on. Shakib Al Hasan was next in line and was given the same treatment. The Bangladesh skipper’s deliveries disappeared over midwicket and deep square leg. The Gayle party had just begun though. Yusuf was lofted over covers, Manoj Tiwary over long-twice on, one of them being mistimed, which also went for six. When Gambhir tried medium pace, it didn’t work either. Rajat Bhatia was hit all over the park, conceding 17 in an over. And just to prove that he was not all about hard force, he guided one down to third man to pick up one of his 10 boundaries.
All this while Dilshan, who was once running neck and neck with Gayle, fell way behind. The only time one realised that he was also batting was when he perished in the 13th over, trying to remind everyone that he too could play the big strokes. But Laxmipathy Balaji was good enough to get through his defence. But, by that time Bangalore had raced to 123 for 1 and the game was over. If KKR believed they had any grim hopes, Virat Kohli blew that away pretty soon. In fact, he nearly blew away Gayle’s chances of getting a ton when he instinctly dispatched a full toss to the boundary, with Gayle still needing two for his 100. There was no more drama though as the West Indian crashed Hasan to get to his 100 as well as take his new franchise to victory.
Earlier in the day, it seemed that KKR would get back to their winning ways courtesy an impressive batting performance. Zaheer Khan was taken to the cleaners once again as KKR raced to 33 in two overs. Sanity was restored when spin was introduced, but KKR continued to build on the start. The opening pair of Kallis and Brad Haddin added 44 inside 5 overs, Kallis, Gambhir and Pathan all contributed 40s, but no one could build on from there. Still, KKR reached 171 for 5, which was handy. In hindsight though, it was far from enough, and Kolkata were left ruing the fact that they could not cross 190 after garnering 33 in the opening two overs. To be fair to KKR though, with the mood Gayle was in, even that wouldn’t have been enough.
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