On a lively green turf, Mumbai Indians faced an uphill task in order to make it to the semifinals even as dark clouds hovering over the Ferozeshah Kotla had put a question mark over the crucial Champions League T20 match between the IPL champion and Perth Scorchers.
But some amazing strokeplay from skipper Rohit Sharma and Dwayne Smith brightened MI’s prospects even as the clouds dispersed from the skyline. Eventually the duo propelled Mumbai to a resounding six-wicket victory and ensured it a place in the last four.
Mumbai, which put Scorchers in and restricted the Aussie team to 149 for six, needed to reach the winning total in 14.2 overs in order to pip Otago Volts on the basis of a better net run rate.
Both Mumbai and Otago were tied on 10 points after completing their Group A engagements.
Sachin Tendulkar’s second-ball duck had little effect on Mumbai’s reply.
Smith (48 off 25 balls) showcased an extra-ordinary combination of disciplined batting and effortless brutality to clobber five fours and three sixes, all hit in the ‘V’, to take the match away from Scorchers.
Rohit Sharma stepped it up further — his equally blazing 24-ball 51 contained three fours and four sixes — as Mumbai romped home in 13.2 overs. In the semis, Mumbai will meet Trinidad and Tobago here on Saturday.
Earlier in the day, Scorchers were keen to prove a point.
Ashton Agar, the left-arm spinner who had hogged the limelight with the bat during the Ashes, opened the innings with the seasoned Simon Katich and the two guided their team to a decent score.
Agar (35 off 40 balls) showed a lot of maturity with which he had won hearts in England. Katich silently supported the youngster as the duo stitched together 55 off 55.
Pragyan Ojha had the solution as he castled the dangerous looking openers in his first over and brought Mumbai back into the contest.
Twenty-one-year-old Sam Whiteman, just a season old in the Australian domestic circuit, smashed six fours and two sixes all around the park to forge 58 runs with Hilton Cartwright for the third wicket. He remained unbeaten to see Scorchers set a challenging target.
For Mumbai, paceman Nathan Coulter-Nile proved effective in his second spell as he captured three wickets at the expense of eight runs.
It really prevented the situation from going out of hand for the IPL winner.
Perth Scorchers: Ashton Agar b Ojha 35 (40b, 6x4), Simon Katich b Ojha 13 (19b), Hilton Cartwright b Coulter-Nile 28 (20b, 4x4), Sam Whiteman (not out) 51 (32b, 6x4, 2x6), Ashton Turner lbw b Coulter-Nile 0 (1b), Marcus North c Pollard b Coulter-Nile 3 (7b), Tom Tiriffitti b Dhawan 1 (2b), Jason Behrendorff (not out) 1 (1b); Extras (b-5, lb-7, nb-2, w-3): 17; Total (for six wkts. in 20 overs): 149.
Fall of wickets: 1-55 (Agar), 2-56 (Katich), 3-114 (Cartwright), 4-114 (Turner), 5-130 (18.3), 6-143 (Tiriffitt).
Mumbai Indians bowling: Harbhajan Singh 4-0-31-0, Nathan Coulter-Nile 4-0-19-3, Rishi Dhawan 4-0-30-1, Kieron Pollard 3-0-26-0, Glenn Maxwell 3-0-14-0, Pragyan Ojha 2-0-17-2.
Mumbai Indians: Dwayne Smith c Behrendorff b Hogg 48 (25b, 5x4, 3x6), Sachin Tendulkar c Whiteman b Behrendorff 0 (2b), Glenn Maxwell c Hogg b Behrendorff 10 (7b, 2x4), Rohit Sharma (not out) 51 (24b, 3x4, 4x6), Kieron Pollard b Hogg 23 (18b, 2x4, 1x6), Ambati Rayudu (not out) 14 (4b, 2x6); Extras (lb-2, w-4): 6; Total (for four wkts. in 13.2 overs): 152.
Fall of wickets: 1-16 (Tendulkar), 2-34 (Maxwell), 3-72 (Smith), 4-137 (Pollard).
Perth Scorchers bowling: Michael Beer 4-0-34-0, Jason Behrendorff 3-0-31-2, Joel Paris 2-0-36-0, Brad Hogg 3-0-26-2, Ashton Agar 1.2-0-23-0.
Man-of-the-match: Rohit Sharma
This article has been corrected for a factual error.
The seventh paragraph said: "In the semis, Mumbai will meet Chennai Super Kings here ..." Actually, Mumbai Indians will meet Trinidad and Tobago in the semifinals.