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Cricket | IPL

Super Sharma outshines magical Miller



A majestic unbeaten 79 from Rohit Sharma outshone David Miller’s fine 56 as Mumbai Indians resisted a stirring challenge from the Kings XI Punjab to secure a nail-biting four-run win in their Pepsi Indian Premier League match at the Wankhede Stadium on Monday.

Full Scorecard: Mumbai v Punjab

The home captain clubbed six fours and six sixes, three of which came in what turned out to be a decisive final over that yielded 27, during a 39-ball blitz to lift his side to 174 for three after winning the toss and batting first in Mumbai.

In reply, Proteas batsman Miller smashed five sixes in his 34 deliveries in the middle, but lacked support as Punjab were bowled out with the final delivery of the chase - Harbhajan Singh starring with the ball after collecting a fine 3-14.

At the start, Mumbai lost star man Sachin Tendulkar (nine) in the third over when he played on to Praveen Kumar.

Dwayne Smith was then joined by Dinesh Karthik as the pair struggled to get going early on.

The India batsman managed a six and four in the fifth over sent down by Kumar, but the hosts were only on 36 at the end of the six powerplay overs.

Karthik was next to go, playing on from Manpreet Gony for 25 off 19 balls, with Punjab missing a glorious chance to claim a third wicket in the form of Smith when Monan Vohra put down a sitter at deep midwicket.

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That was in the 10th over, the same one the 50 was raised in as Piyush Chawla was left frustrated after missing the West Indian on 13.

Smith (33 off 32) then cut loose and crossed 30 with a superb slogged six off Chawla, who soon had his revenge when the opener skied him to Miller at long-on with the score on 86.

But Kieron Pollard (20) joined Sharma for the start of a brilliant 88-run partnership that gave Mumbai the impetus that had been missing.

The 100 was raised in the 15th over, before Sharma went to his 18th IPL 50 in just 28 balls, followed by his final flurry that saw him smash stand-in skipper David Hussey to pieces in the last over, which went 6-0-6-1w-6-4-4.

Punjab were dealt a double blow early in the reply, Mandeep Singh (nine) bowled by Lasith Malinga and Vohra (one) looping Mitchell Johnson (2-29) to Pollard at point with only 16 on the board.

Hussey (34 off 18), determined to make amends for his poor final over with the ball, almost instantly threw caution to the wind by sharing a swift 39-run partnership in 3.2 overs with Shaun Marsh, the 50 coming up in the sixth over.

However, both fell in quick succession, Marsh going thanks to an absurd catch from Pollard on the long-on fence – the big West Indian timing his leap to perfection as he plucked the ball one-handed, retained his balance and celebrated.

Hussey went two overs later when he failed to clear Johnson, also at long-on, as Pragyan Ojha (2-22) struck again, while Gurkeerat Singh (two) offered little resistance leaving the visitors on 80 for five at the halfway mark.

Miller finally found an decent enough partner in Azhar Mahmood with the pair taking their side past 100 in the 13th over in which Pollard was carted for two more splendid sixes by the former.

The wickets continued to tumble at the other end, though, as Harbhajan took out Mahmood (nine) and Gony (nought).

There were 57 needed from the last five and a six apiece from Chawla (12) and Miller, whose maximum raised 50 in 32 balls, in the next two overs kept Punjab in the hunt.

But after smashing Johnson for another huge six towards cow corner, the South African threw it all away when he picked out Tendulkar at cover next ball.

Praveen (24 off 15) batted valiantly at the death, and after taking it down to five off the final ball, he was fell to Dhawal Kulkarni as Mumbai held on.

MUMBAI INDIANS: DR Smith, SR Tendulkar, KD Karthik (wk), RG Sharma (capt), KA Pollard, AT Rayudu, Harbhajan Singh, MG Johnson, SL Malinga, DS Kulkarni, PP Ojha

KINGS XI PUNJAB: SE Marsh, Mandeep Singh, M Vohra, DJ Hussey (capt), DA Miller, Azhar Mahmood, Gurkeerat Singh (wk), PP Chawla, P Kumar, MS Gony, P Awana

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