The Pune Warriors’ chase nipped in the bud after Johnson’s initial burst

Taken for a picnic to the Wankhede Stadium, near about 10,000 flag-waving underprivileged school children occupying the popular Vijay Merchant, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar stands must have wondered why they were in the middle of a hustle and bustle of cricketing activity that would interest only the faithful and the discerning.

It was a first-time experience for a large group of young boys and girls as they saw two legends of the game Ricky Ponting and Sachin Tendulkar open the innings for a side they were cheering for and which, after one hour and thirty five minutes of solid work with the bat posted a formidable total of 183.

Splendid team-effort

In the end a splendid team-effort enabled MI score an emphatic 41-run win against Pune Warriors India in a Pepsi IPL-VI match watched by a near full house here on Saturday.

Once left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson penetrated the defences of Aaron Finch and Robin Uthappa in his opening burst, a third straight victory for the home team looked a more likely happening in the presence of a partisan audience.

MI piled on pressure and though Yuvraj Singh and Mitchell Marsh hit soaring sixes, excellent catches by Rishi Dhawan and Kieron Pollard in the deep clinched the match for their side.

MI benefited largely from the half-century-plus partnerships between Ponting and Tendulkar, by the in-form Dinesh Karthik and Rohit Sharma and eventually by Sharma and Pollard’s roaring 65-run stand for the unbeaten fourth wicket in the last 24 balls that completely demoralised the Warriors’ morale.

Ponting wins toss again

The teams that had scored clear-cut wins in their previous matches against Delhi Daredevils and Rajasthan Royals took the field unchanged. The focus — after Ponting won the fourth toss in as many matches — remained on the home team’s opening pair which was under some pressure to provide a thrust after poor efforts of 3 and 0 in the matches against CSK and Daredevils.

Initially, the ageing batsmen struggled on sort of a sticky surface, but once Tendulkar cut loose against Ashok Dinda and struck four 4s in-a-row, runs flowed as his team touched 48 at the end of the six Power Play overs.

Ponting fell to a smart catch converted by Abhishek Nayar stretching his hands in front at point. MI suffered another blow when Marsh took a typical Australian-type catch cupping the ball in front of his chest at long-on when Tendulkar attempted to clear the line.

The Warriors appeared to have exercised considerable control over MI’s scoring rate, but after the fall of Karthik in the 16th over at 115, the home team blazed away with Sharma taking a heavy toll of Dinda.

Scoreboard:

Mumbai Indians: Ricky Ponting c Nayar b Yuvraj 14 (17b, 2x4), Sachin Tendulkar c Marsh b Finch 44 (29b, 7x4, 1x6), Dinesh Karthik lbw b Marsh 41 (29b, 4x4, 1x6), Rohit Sharma (not out) 62 (32b, 3x4, 5x6), Kieron Pollard (not out) 19 (14b, 1x4, 1x6), Extras (nb-1, w-2): 3, Total (for three wkts. in 20 overs) 183.

Fall of wickets: 1-54 (Ponting), 2-60 (Tendulkar), 3-115 (Karthik).

Pune Warriors bowling: Aaron Finch 2-0-11-1, Bhuvneshwar Kumar 2-0-16-0, Ashoke Dinda 4-0-63-0, Rahul Sharma 4-0-27-0, Angelo Mathews 4-0-29-0, Yuvraj Singh 2-0-13-1, Mitchell Marsh 2-0-24-1.

Pune Warriors India: Aaron Finch b Johnson 0 (1b), Robin Uthappa b Johnson 7 (9b, 1x4), Ross Taylor (run out) 4 (5b, 1x4), Yuvraj Singh c Dhawan b Pollard 24 (16b, 1x4, 2x6), T. Suman c Pollard b Harbhajan 23 (15b, 5x4), Angelo Mathews c Rohit b Ojha 19 (18b, 1x6), Mitchell Marsh c Dhawan b Johnson 38 (26b, 2x4, 2x6), Abhishek Nayar c Pollard b Malinga 6 (7b), Bhuvneshwar Kumar (not out) 6 (11b), Rahul Sharma (not out) 10 (12b, 1x4), Extras (lb-1, w-4): 5, Total (for eight wkts. in 20 overs): 142.

Fall of wickets: 1-0 (Finch), 2-5 (Taylor), 3-13 (Uthappa), 4-38 (Suman), 5-71 (Yuvraj), 6-89 (Mathews), 7-120 (Nayar), 8-127 (Marsh).

Mumbai Indians bowling: Mitchell Johnson 4-0-33-3, Pragyan Ojha 2-0-20-1, Harbhajan Singh 3-0-20-1, Lasith Malinga 4-0-22-1, Rishi Dhawan 4-0-27-0, Kieron Pollard 3-0-19-1.

Man-of-the-match: Rohit Sharma.

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