In a thrilling match that went to the wire, Mumbai Indians made it to the final of Pepsi IPL-VI with a four-wicket victory over a brave Rajasthan Royals in the second qualifier at the Eden Gardens.
Chasing a target of 166, Mumbai Indians managed to score 169 for six in 19.5 overs. Harbhajan Singh’s three-wicket haul, two catches and the winning boundary ought to make him a happy man.
Considering the nature of the pitch, Mumbai Indians went for runs from the start with opening batsmen — Dwayne Smith and Aditya Tare — going after the Royals medium-pacers, Vikramjit Malik, James Faulkner and Shane Watson. The left-handed Faulkner went for 34 in three overs while Watson conceded 24 runs in two overs.
RR found Smith and Tare too hot to handle as the two put on 70 runs for the opening wicket in 9.1 overs before Kevon Cooper had Tare caught at long-on for 22. Dinesh Karthik continued in the same fashion, scoring 22 off 17 balls and the second-wicket pair added 55 runs in five overs to put MI firmly on way to victory.
When MI looked like it would make it easily, Rohit Sharma and Smith were out in quick succession. Sharma was bowled by Siddharth Trivedi while Smith — having accumulated 62 runs off 44 balls with two sixes and six fours — holed out to deep midwicket off Stuart Binny.
Keiron Pollard fell to Faulkner at a very crucial phase for 11 off six balls. Ambati Rayudu and Harbhajan Singh ensured the team stayed on course.
Though Rayudu, who was dropped by Brad Hodge off Cooper with the score on 151, was bowled by Watson in the final over for 17, Harbhajan and new batsman Rishi Dhawan clinched victory with a ball to spare.
Opting to bat, Dravid played the early aggressor with two fluent drives. Rahane, hit on the helmet by a Mitchell Johnson delivery, settled down to play second fiddle as the opening pair added 44 runs in 6.3 overs before Harbhajan Singh induced Rahane to attempt a sweep at a straighter one that beat the bat and hit the leg stump.
Harbhajan then had Shane Watson playing across, and the leading edge was taken by Rohit Sharma.
Sanju Vishwanadh left for the addition of four runs after one of Lasith Malinga’s slower deliveries deceived him. The skier was well judged by Harbhajan.?
Dravid and Binny looked in good nick as the latter began with a nudge down to third-man. Dravid placed his shots well, driving some past the fielder and placing some over to pick up boundaries.
After hitting seven delightful fours, he left for 43 off 37 balls, held by Rohit off Harbhajan.
Binny and Hodge brought up the team’s 100 in 13.4 overs.? Binny fell at the score of 104 becoming the first of Pollard’s two victims. The burly West Indian had Binny caught by Harbhajan off the first ball, and two balls later sent back Kevon Cooper.
From 108 for six in 15.3 overs, Dishant Yagnik, a feisty left-hander, hit a 17-ball 31 not out with six boundaries, even as Hodge held the other end up with an unbeaten 19 off 20 balls, and lifted RR to a position of strength from where the team had a chance to fight back.
The two added 57 runs for the seventh wicket.