Mumbai Indians rode on blitzes from Rohit Sharma and Dwayne Smith to enter the semifinals of the Champions League Twenty20 2013 after beating Perth Scorchers by six wickets at the Feroz Shah Kotla in New Delhi on Wednesday (September 2). (Match Scorecard | Match Highlights)
Having opted to field, Mumbai needed to reach the 150-run target set by Perth in 14.2 overs to get past Otago Volts on net run-rate and join Rajasthan Royals in the semis from Group A. In they end, they needed just 13.2 overs to get the job done.
Mumbai brought in the bowling changes thick and fast, but it took until the tenth over of the innings to get the first breakthrough, when Pragyan Ojha bowled Ashton Agar, who had shown good enterprise, and Simon Katich off the second and fifth deliveries. By then, however, Perth had crossed the 50-run mark. (Rohit hopes Sachin shines in semis)
The Mumbai bowlers had kept things tight prior to the dismissals too and Perth reached only 29 at the end of the Power Play overs. The rate picked up a little after that, aided by Dinesh Karthik missing an easy opportunity to stump Agar off Glenn Maxwell, the ball rolling away for four byes as well.
Things got better for Perth only after the wickets fell and the period between overs 10 and 15 were productive. Hilton Cartwright and Sam Whiteman, the debutant, went after the bowlers, Karthik conceded four more byes - again off Maxwell - and the overall Mumbai fielding looked rather sloppy, Harbhajan Singh letting a half chance go at short third man. (Pics)
Perth still needed a good over to overcome the slow start though, and that finally came in the 15th, bowled by Harbhajan, when Whiteman hit the first six of the innings and Cartwright added two boundaries - 18 runs came off the over.
But Nathan Coulter-Nile took two wickets in the next over, first yorking Cartwright for 28 off the third delivery and then catching Ashton Turner plumb in front first ball.
The score then was 114. That it reached 149 was chiefly due to the efforts of Whiteman, who showed remarkable composure against his big-name opponents in slamming an unbeaten 32-ball 51. Coulter-Nile was the pick of the Mumbai bowlers, adding Marcus North's wicket to his kitty for returns of 3 for 19 from his four overs.
The chase wasn't going to be easy, especially with one of the openers, Sachin Tendulkar, short on scoring form.
Indeed, the Tendulkar subplots were of great interest. Would this be his last match for Mumbai Indians? Also, would he get the 26 runs he needed to reach 50,000 runs in first-class, List A and Twenty2o cricket combined? The answer to the first question would be answered later in the day, and it would be a 'no', but the second was answered in the second over of the innings when Tendulkar fell for a second-ball duck, an uppish flick off Jason Behrendorff going to Whiteman at deep square-leg. With that, Justin Langer's pre-match hopes of finding an Eric Hollies in his group came true, down to the number of balls faced by the little big man.
The chase, however, was well and truly on by then, Dwayne Smith having taken out the big shots in the first over by Michael Beer, and continuing on the same vein. Three sixes and five fours flowed from his bat even as Maxwell came and went, giving Behrendorff his second wicket. Rohit joined in the carnage, hitting a flicked six off Joel Paris to get off the mark.
It needed something special to peg Mumbai back, and that came in the form of a spectacular diving catch. Smith had smashed Brad Hogg's first delivery over midwicket for a six and was well positioned to do the same to the next one - a long hop. He didn't connect too well though, and Behrendorff pulled off a stunner at the square-leg fence, Smith gone for 48 in 25 balls.
But with Rohit at his six-hitting best, he hit four of them in his unbeaten 51 in 24 balls, Kieron Pollard joining in with an 18-ball 23 before falling 13 runs short of the target and Ambati Rayudu finishing things off with consecutive sixes off Agar, Perth were subdued easily. A semifinal spot had been booked, Mumbai were exactly where they believed they would be before the tournament started, and the same questions about Tendulkar were set to be asked again, and answered again, on Saturday at the same venue.