Pune: A packed house at the home of the Pune Warriors, with a decent Mumbai contingent making use of the proximity to witness an away game, set things up perfectly for a local derby. While both teams were well below their best, the contest was alive till far longer than it should have been, with the match going down to the last ball. Munaf Patel held his nerve, and unbelievably, the Mumbai Indians squeezed out a one-run win. How the Warriors will justify being only six wickets down and yet unable to score at six-an-over in a Twenty20 match is anyone's guess.
James Franklin and Sachin Tendulkar had the chance to set the tone, and the fact that neither could force the pace in any meaningful manner in their 50-run opening stand should have been a pointer to how things would go. Franklin top-edged a pull, falling for 25 at slightly better than a run-a-ball and before Mumbai could catch their breath Rohit Sharma ran himself out. Ignoring a vociferous appeal for lbw, Rohit charged down the pitch and before he realised that his senior partner had never considered a single, the bails were off.
From there on, the ideal scenario for Mumbai would have been a long, if less-than-frenetic innings from Tendulkar, while the others got on with it. Unfortunately for the Mumbai team, Tendulkar's attempt to raise the ante against the left-arm angle of Ashish Nehra came a cropper and wicketkeeper Robin Uthappa's celebration of the fall of the all-important third wicket with the score on 81 was well justified.
From there on, Mumbai were reduced to depending on mere cameos, and the regular fall of wickets did not help. That they ended their 20 overs without being bowled out was small consolation as they limped to 120.
On most pitches a target of 121 should be easier than a walk in the park. But the Pune Warriors can rarely be accused of taking the easy route. Robin Uthappa, who held himself back, made 18 at a run-a-ball, but should really have used the opportunity to bed down and make a big score. Jesse Ryder holed out, and when Michael Clarke was at the wrong end of an iffy lbw decision, the Pune Warriors had put themselves under a bit of pressure at 44 for 3 in the 9th over. Steve Smith, who has been Pune's talisman, endured a rare failure, and before you knew it a game that was won was slipping away. Sourav Ganguly took up 24 balls for his 16, and when the final over began with 12 still needed, Mithun Manhas could have done with all the extra breathing space. Manhas, who ended up unbeaten on 42 from 34, was stuck at the non-striker's end when it mattered the most, leaving the Pune Warriors with a defeat they could easily have avoided.