Mumbai win thanks to Malinga
Another giant bowling performance by Lasith Malinga at the death led the Mumbai Indians to a thrilling one-run victory over the Pune Warriors in their Indian Premier League match at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium in Pune on Thursday.
Pune were chasing just 121 for victory and the gutsy Mithun Manhas took them to the brink against the powerful Mumbai attack that produced a massive effort to make up for their batsmen's failings.
Manhas scored 42 not off 34 balls and was particularly strong square on the off side. But he was unable to produce the boundary-hits required through the leg-side and, with Mumbai captain Harbhajan Singh putting a tight screen on the off-side, Manhas did not score another boundary after the first ball of the 18th over and in fact scored just seven runs off his last seven balls.
Malinga finished with 2-25 in four overs and, with Pune needing 36 runs in the last four overs, the Sri Lankan star took 2-13 in his last two overs.
The Slinger began by bowling Saurav Ganguly, who was in scratchy form, for 16 and then out-thought Wayne Parnell (2) with full, wide deliveries that eventually led to the left-hander steering a catch into the hands of Robin Peterson at backward-point.
After Malinga's brilliance, Pune needed 12 off Munaf Patel's last over and Bhuvneswar Kumar put them in with a chance by hitting the Indian seamer inside-out over extra cover for four. It left the Warriors needing four runs off the last ball for victory but, despite Munaf producing a low full-toss on leg-stump, Bhuvneswar could only flick it to deep midwicket for two runs.
The Pune home crowd had spent most of the innings in stunned disbelief as a very average batting performance meant they made extremely heavy weather of chasing a mediocre total.
Opener Robin Uthappa had played some wonderful drives in his 18 before the aggressive Munaf trapped him lbw and the miserly Harbhajan then removed Jesse Ryder (9) and the fluent Australian captain Michael Clarke (14).
Clarke had shown some great footwork to the crafty off-spinner and his lbw decision, sweeping after getting in a good stride, looked a particularly harsh decision, especially with Harbhajan bowling around the wicket.
Left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha then used his skill to rush an arm-ball through the advancing Steve Smith (2) and James Franklin showed his utility value with a valuable spell of three overs for 20 runs.
The powerhouse Mumbai attack, led by Malinga, then finished the job despite Manhas's brave efforts to go after the required runs.
The spin of Harbhajan (4-0-18-2) and Ojha (4-0-24-1) was crucial in maintaining the pressure on the Warriors, while Munaf bowled splendidly with the new ball and in the crucial final over to also finish with 1-24.
The Pune Warriors seamers had earlier bowled with pace and intensity as they restricted the Mumbai Indians to 120 for nine.
Bhuvneshwar was the star of the show with figures of 2-9 in three overs, while Ashish Nehra recovered brilliantly from his first over costing 14 runs to finish with 2-19.
Sachin Tendulkar top-scored with 34, but his innings took 35 balls and his frustration was apparent as his mediocre IPL continued. It was his highest score of the season and it took his tally to just 128 runs in six innings.
All eyes were on Tendulkar as he took three successive fours off Ashok Dinda in the fourth over, but Nehra's tight line proved his undoing as The Little Master was caught behind in the 12th over.
Tendulkar had glued the top-order together after the loss of Franklin, caught off Bhuvneshwar for 25, and Rohit Sharma, run out by Smith for three, in the first half of the innings, but his departure led to an awful collapse as Mumbai lost six wickets for 39 runs in the last eight overs.
Peterson, strangely promoted up the order to number four, scored 13 before he skied a pull off Nehra to mid-on, while Ambati Rayudu made room to slash through the off-side but was totally deceived and bowled by a slower ball rolled out by Bhuvneshwar.
Dinesh Karthik was left to bat with the tail and struggled through to the end of the innings to score 18 not out, with the visitors' appalling running between the wickets leading to the downfall of Thisara Perera (0), Malinga (14) and Ojha (1).
Smith, one of the best fielders in the competition, was involved in two more of the run outs, while Parnell bowled superbly in the death overs to concede just 18 runs in his four overs.
Parnell was also excellent in the field, snatching a great catch at short extra cover to dismiss the Mumbai captain, Harbhajan, for a first-ball duck off the bowling of Dinda.
PUNE WARRIORS- Jesse Ryder, Michael Clarke, Saurav Ganguly (capt), Steven Smith, Robin Uthappa, Mithun Manhas (wk), Wayne Parnell, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Murali Kartik, Ashish Nehra, Ashok Dinda.
MUMBAI INDIANS - James Franklin, Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Ambati Rayudu, Thisara Perera, Robin Peterson, Harbhajan Singh (capt), Lasith Malinga, Pragyan Ojha, Munaf Patel.