Faith, they say, can move a mountain and Harbhajan Singh showed immense faith in himself and in his young teammates to script a dream title triumph for Mumbai Indians in the Champions League T20 tournament that concluded in Chennai on Sunday.
It was a dramatic comeback win for the Mumbai team, which was written off at the start of the tournament as it was a depleted outfit without Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma and Munaf Patel. Yet the team played to a plan under the inspiring leadership of stand-in skipper Harbhajan.
Harbhajan and his young bunch, with the ever-reliable support from Lankan speedster Lasith Malinga, overcame all odds in the championship to take home the trophy. Harbhajan and Malinga rightly won the ‘Man of the Match' and ‘Man of the Tournament' awards respectively, which came as the icing on the cake.
As Harbhajan pointed out after the final, “winning without Sachin made the victory all the more special”.
Who would have given a chance to Mumbai Indians, after they folded up for 139, which on paper, was easily within reach for the mighty Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), which boasted an awesome threesome — Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and Dilshan Tillakaratne — in its formidable line-up? But once Malinga yorked Dilshan and Harbhajan got Gayle and Kohli, Mumbai Indians scented a victory and won by 31 runs.
The victory would have done a world of good to Harbhajan Singh, now axed from the Indian team after a one-off poor series against England. He had a point to prove and what better place to do than right in the heart of chief selector K. Srikkanth's hometown.
For RCB, the disaster in the final must have been galling indeed. Its bowling attack lacked depth, yet Mumbai Indians was restricted to a meagre score. Yet, the target was not scaled. That leads to a query: “Is RCB now wearing the tag of chokers?”
A defeat in the IPL IV against Chennai Super Kings in the final and now against Mumbai Indians in the final of CLT20 raises doubts about the ability of this flashy outfit to raise the bar on the big occasion.
That needs introspection by the team‘s think tank of Anil Kumble, Venkatesh Prasad and Daniel Vettori.
However, they did produce some great stuff in the run-up to the final. The way Gayle and Kohli chased down New South Wales' imposing total in the semifinal and the last ball six of Arun Karthik, which powered the host past South Australian Redbacks in the semifinal, were all vintage moments. But then T20 is a lottery and you don't win every time; ask Dhoni!