Mumbai: A five-wicket win with 11 deliveries to spare might suggest a comfortable verdict on home patch for Mumbai Indians, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Having won just one of four games this season at the Wankhede stadium, Mumbai laid out a green surface for their return match against laggards Deccan Chargers. The track was a bit of a lottery, but Mumbai benefited from a series of ordinary decisions from the 2009 champions, the most significant being the absence of Kumar Sangakkara, the captain.
Sangakkara has admittedly been in poor form, but there is no gainsaying how handy his experience and expertise would have been on a pitch on which the faster bowlers positively thrived. In the end, all Sangakkara - who sat himself out and handed over the reins to Cameron White - did was watch on in frustration from the dugout as the Chargers were shot out for 100 in one of the more forgettable batting displays of the competition.
There was no indication of the carnage to follow when openers Shikhar Dhawan and Parthiv Patel negotiated the early passage of play relatively untroubled. The duo put on 37, but once Parthiv was caught at mid-on off Harbhajan Singh, the Chargers went into an inexorable tailspin.
Struggling desperately for control and for wickets, Harbhajan bowled quite beautifully, slowing his pace down and procuring turn and bounce. Munaf Patel, RP Singh and James Franklin played their parts, helped by excellent catching, but the star performer was Lasith Malinga, whose varied bag of tricks was too hot for the Chargers to handle.
If Mumbai thought their chase was going to be a walk in the park, they received a rude jolt off the very first delivery of their innings. The masterly Dale Steyn produced a peach to rattle South African team-mate Richard Levi's stumps, then got past the outside edge of Rohit Sharma's bat four times on the trot.
Steyn, later adjudged man of the match, bowled his heart out on his way to unbelievable figures of two for 10, but while Malinga had been complemented by the experience of Munaf, RP Singh and Franklin, he had only greenhorns Veer Pratap Singh and Ashish Reddy for support. Veer Pratap did get rid of Sachin Tendulkar, but once Rohit found his bearings after a nervy start, the Chargers' hopes rapidly dissipated.
With victory appearing imminent, Rohit and Franklin fell in quick succession, bringing the equation down to 18 off 18 deliveries. Having left out Manpreet Gony, White turned to leggie Amit Mishra for the 18th over. Rayudu smashed two boundaries to all but settle the issue, Mumbai thus climbing from seventh to third in the table in one fell swoop.