Bangalore: Having started their campaign with victory in a game they had no business winning, Mumbai Indians nearly accomplished the exact opposite before pipping a blundering Trindad & Tobago off the last ball. In a game where neither team managed to reach 100, T&T made too many errors to back up their spirit. The mistake that sealed it came after Mumbai Indians' top-scorer Ambati Rayudu was run out off the penultimate ball of the match, leaving last man Yuzvendra Chahal needing two off the final delivery. In a move that flew in the face of logic, T&T chose to give the single and play for the tie, unmindful of the fact that they would have had to face Lasith Malinga if the Super Over eventuated.
Daren Ganga pushed the field back, Sherwin Ganga sent down a low full toss on Chahal's pads, and the batsman was inventive enough to nudge softly towards deep midwicket. Chahal charged back for the second, the throw from the deep wasn't accurate, but Denesh Ramdin had enough time to break the stumps after collecting it. Ramdin, however, chose to under-arm from a couple of yards away and missed to the glee of the predominantly Mumbai Indians-biased crowd.
When Mumbai Indians came out needing a paltry 99 for victory, talk was that they would go for a big win and boost their net run-rate. Ravi Rampaul and T&T's army of unconventional spinners had completely different ideas, though. Samuel Badree had Aiden Blizzard top-edging a slider, before Rampaul dismantled the top order with clever lengths delivered at lively pace. T Suman got a leading edge, James Franklin got an outside edge, and Andrew Symonds inner-edged a yorker onto his stumps - the last two off successive balls to leave the chase in disarray.
Kieron Pollard survived the hat-trick ball, but T&T kept attacking their once team-mate. Sunil Narine got the prize wicket with a flat offbreak that Pollard bottom-edged onto his pads en route to his stumps to make it 33 for 5. R Sathish and Rayudu concentrated on survival until Rayudu found release with two boundaries off Kevon Cooper. Sathish looked completely out of place, though, and whipped straight to midwicket to leave his side 65 for 6. Harbhajan Singh put the pressure right back with a lashed six, before he was run out in the 18th over while looking to keep Rayudu on strike. T&T's fielding began to lose its edge, with a number of school-boy errors in the end overs, including Jason Mohammad's mis-field at long-off that gave Malinga four. Rampaul, however, evened the game once again with a superb 19th over that left Mumbai Indians needing 11 off Sherwin Ganga's last.
Rayudu got a single off the first ball, before Sherwin sent down a friendly full toss off the second. Malinga clattered it straight down the ground, past a leaping effort from Mohammad, for a pressure-releasing six. A single was followed by Malinga's run-out, backing up too far when Rayudu smashed a full ball straight to the bowler. That made it 3 required off 2, before Rayudu fell attempting an impossible second. And then Daren Ganga blinked, Ramdin missed, and Mumbai were home.
T&T's misery ended with a run-out that was fumbled, but it began earlier in the evening with one that should never have been. They were coasting at 41 for 1 in the fifth over, when Lendl Simmons, returning for a straightforward second, chugged into his crease without grounding his bat. His entire body was over the line, but the front foot was in the air and the back foot on the crease, with no portion of it inside, when the stumps were broken.
Until that moment of laziness, T&T's innings featured all that was good about Caribbean batting. There were flamboyant shots from Adrian Barath in the opening over, audacious pick-up strokes from Simmons, whose approach was unchanged after Barath's exit, and a couple of emphatic blows from Darren Bravo. But once Simmons handed Mumbai Indians an opening, Harbhajan barged through with attacking bowling and perceptive field placements - he operated with slip and silly point at one point.
The middle order did not have the technique to counterattack. Harbhajan enticed Denesh Ramdin into miscuing a sweep right back at him, before nailing Bravo with a yorker. He wound up his spell with Sherwin Ganga's wicket - a patent slider that pinned him on the back foot. Malinga did his business at the other end, and T&T lost wickets too quickly to last their full quota. They were bowled out with as many as 22 balls left to go in the innings, and in the end that cost them the game.