Harbhajan seals tense victory for Indians
Harbhajan Singh picked up 5 wickets to help the Mumbai Indians pull off a tense 8 run victory against the Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium.
With the game heading towards a nail biting finish Harbhajan struck 3 times in the 18th over to leave the Super Kings 137-8 in their pursuit of the Indians total of 164-4.
Srikkanth Anirudha (71) scored a vital half century but once Harbhajan struck in his final over the Indians held on to gain a small bit of revenge for their 22 run defeat against the visitors in last years IPL final at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai.
Rohit Sharma scored a vital half century to help the Indians recover from the early loss of Sachin Tendulkar to help set the Super Kings a victory target of 165.
Despite the earlier loss of Murali Vijay (12) and Raina (5) the Super Kings kept the pressure on the Indians thanks to a 3rd wicket partnership of 60 from Michael Hussey and Subramaniam Badrinath.
Having come together in the 5th over after the dismissal off Raina the pair appeared to change the course of the game but once Hussey (41) was caught by Kieron Pollard at midwicket the Indians took control.
MS Dhoni (3) quickly followed 6 deliveries later after he was caught by Sharma who pulled off one of the catches of the tournament to dismiss the Super Kings skipper after dived forward to pluck the ball out of the air at third man to leave the visitors 101-4 after 12.2 overs.
With the tension mounting Srikkanth Anirudha could only add 9 runs before he became Harbhajan Singh’s second wicket of the innings but with Badrinath still at the crease the game was evenly balanced until Harbhajan returned in the 18th over to seal the victory.
Despite the loss of Tendulkar early in the Indians innings, Sharma was (87) the stand out performer for the home side, smashing 8 fours and 5 sixes during an impressive 48 ball innings which helped the home side reach 164-4.
Andrew Symonds (31) and Ambati Rayudu (27) offered vital support as the Indians recovered from 13-2 to set the Super Kings a tricky run chase.
Sharma and Rayudu emerged from Tendulkar’s shadow to lead the Indians recovery with a 3rd wicket partnership of 61 after the Indians skipper suffered a rare failure with the bat.
Having seen Tendulkar dismissed in just the 3rd over, Rayudu and Sharma saw off the threat of Ablie Morkel (19-1) before laying the foundations of a vital recovery for the Indians.
The pair carefully built their partnership up by picking up quick one’s and two’s while punishing any poor deliveries by dispatching them to the boundary.
Having survived a couple of run out chances the pairs luck finally ran out at the start of the 12th over when Rayudu (27) was stumped by MD Dhoni off the bowling of Suraj Randiv.
Despite the loss of Rayudu, Sharma continued his excellent innings to register his 9th IPL half century with a massive six off the bowling of Randiv which sailed into the third tier of the stand behind the long off boundary.
Sharma and new partner Symonds continued to attack the Super Kings bowlers as the runs started to flow which put the visitors under pressure for the first time in the game.
The pair took just 29 deliveries to bring up their 50 partnership before Sharma increased Dhoni’s worries by dispatching 3 sixes in the space of 5 deliveries to help the Indians reach 160-3 with 6 deliveries remaining.
Although Bollinger ended Sharma’s innings in the final over, Symonds and Pollard (0) were still able to add 4 more runs to leave the visitors facing a difficult run chase.
The Super Kings got off to an impressive start picking up two early wickets including that of Tendulkar to leave the Indians 13-2 after the home side had been put into bat by Dhoni.
Morkel and Doug Bollinger combined perfect line and length with out swinging deliveries from the very first ball of the game to leave the Indians on the back foot.
Morkel struck first to remove Rajagopal Sathish (0) who was caught by Anirudha at mid wicket before Tendulkar (5) top edged a bouncer from Bollinger through to Hussey at first slip.