Mumbai Indians stormed into the final of the DLF-IPL III defeating Royal Challengers Bangalore by 35 runs at the D.Y. Patil Stadium here on Wednesday.
Ross Taylor (31 not out, 30 balls) staged a lone battle as the visitor, chasing 185 for a place in the final, crumbled to 149 for nine in 20 overs. Kieron Pollard was adjudged the Man-of-the-Match.
Sachin Tendulkar was absent owing to injury to fingers from the fourth over onwards in RCB's innings.
Zaheer Khan stepped in to fill the breach. The skipper walked out at the finish to greet each teammate with a bear hug.
Rayudu's efficiency behind the stumps, three wickets by Kieron Pollard apart from a run-out, timely strikes by Harbhajan and J.P. Duminy's well-judged catch on the ropes were the highlights of Mumbai Indians's work on the field. A berth in the Champions League is the first reward.
RCB's batting response was entrusted to Dravid the opener, orthodox yet effective in using the pace generated by Zaheer Khan. He had the presence of mind to wait for the umpire's verdict when Tendulkar celebrated a catch at first slip. The Mumbai Indians captain walked off for treatment on injured fingers as the television umpire negated the catch.
Harbhajan's knack of making things happen, complemented by Rayudu's reflexes behind the stumps, resulted in Pietersen's exit. The off-spinner saw the batsman stepping out, bowled down the leg-side and the wicket-keeper finished the task with a flourish, diving sideways to take the bails off.
Uthappa left after a short burst, sweeping sixes off Harbhajan. Mumbai Indians appeared to have turned the tide when a fine piece of fielding by Pollard ran out Dravid (23 runs, 22 balls), collecting a throw from R. Sathish and flinging his body forward to effect a diving run-out, leaving RCB still to get a grip on the chase at the half-way mark (83 for two in 10 overs). Rayudu then latched on to an edge by Kohli.
Rayudu and Saurabh Tiwary, busy as bees earlier at the crease, put on 67 runs off 49 balls in a fifth-wicket stand when the RCB bowlers were on top.
Rayudu started with an imperious drive over the bowler's head, then scored 40 off 38 balls creating the launchpad for the big-hitters to follow. Tiwary cleared the ball with huge swings, using the bat like a sledgehammer for four sixes.
Mumbai Indians scored 184 for five thanks to a five-over blast from Tiwary and some clean-hitting by Pollard (33 not out off 13 balls). The West Indian smashed three sixes.
Mumbai Indians got a reality check about life without Tendulkar. The captain stretched outside the offstump to drive a Dale Steyn ball swinging away, scooped towards cover for Taylor to stun the home crowd into silence with a low, rolling catch. Kohli's sharp reaction cut short Shikhar Dhawan's short stint as five overs resulted in 39 runs and loss of both the openers.
Duminy's apprehensions against spin came true, startled by bounce from Kumble, angled across the left-hander. Pietersen kept plugging away at the other end, bowling flat and denying the batsmen pace off the track. Rayudu and Tiwary were patient, working the ball around for singles to rotate strike.
Tendulkar opted to bat after winning the toss, but Mumbai Indians gained momentum in the 14th over bowled by Kohli.
Tiwary cleared mid-wicket with a huge swing across for the first six as the home team crossed the 100-run milestone. He stepped out for his second six, a huge swing over long-on off Kallis in the 16th over.
Mumbai Indians: S. Dhawan (run out) 12 (9b, 2x4), S. Tendulkar c Taylor b Steyn 9 (9b, 2x4), A. Nayar c Praveen b Pietersen 22 (18b, 2x4), A. Rayudu c Kallis b Steyn 40 (38b, 4x4), J-P. Duminy c Pietersen b Kumble 3 (4b), S. Tiwary (not out) 52 (31b, 3x4, 4x6), K. Pollard (not out) 33 (13b, 1x4, 3x6), Extras (lb-2, nb-2, w-9) 13; Total (for five wickets in 20 overs) 184.
Fall of wickets: 1-11, 2-29, 3-68, 4-77, 5-144.
Royal Challengers Bangalore bowling: Praveen 3-0-29-0, Steyn 4-0-43-2, Vinay 2-0-25-0, Kallis 2-0-25-0, Kumble 4-0-30-1, Pietersen 4-0-20-1, Kohli 1-0-10-0.
Royal Challengers Bangalore: J. Kallis c Rayudu b Malinga 11 (9b, 2x4), R. Dravid (run out) 23 (22b, 3x4), K. Pietersen st. Rayudu b Harbhajan 19 (14b, 2x4), R. Uthappa c Dhawan b Pollard 26 (13b, 2x4, 2x6), R. Taylor (not out) 31 (30b, 1x4, 1x6), V. Kohli c Rayudu b Pollard 9 (7b, 1x4), M. Pandey c Duminy b Pollard 5 (9b), Praveen b Harbhajan 1 (2b), Vinay b Malinga 8 (8b), D. Steyn b Fernando 5 (5b, 1x4), A. Kumble (not out) 1 (2b), Extras (nb-1, w-7, lb-2) 10; Total (for nine wickets in 20 overs) 149.
Fall of wickets: 1-24, 2-47, 3-81, 4-81, 5-97, 6-108, 7-118, 8-134, 9-146.
Mumbai Indians bowling: Zaheer 4-0-34-0, Fernando 4-0-28-1, Malinga 4-0-24-2, Harbhajan 4-0-44-2, Pollard 4-0-17-3.