Bangalore: This match truly had it all. Rain and a faulty floodlight tower delayed proceedings, fortunes see-sawedall the way, two young Indian batsmen stole the limelight from their millionaire teammates and, finally, a bit of a brawl on the pitch as tempers frayed. It was bound to be tight, with the fight for the last-four stage hotting up. And so it was. Mumbai eventually pulled off a spectacular five-wicket win from a seemingly hopeless situation.
The celebrated Bangalore batting order hardly covered itself in glory after Harbhajan Singh put them in. Chris Gayle, AB DeVilliers and Virat Kohli were non-performers, while Tillakaratne Dilshan huffed and puffed his way to 47 from 50 balls. So tardy was progress that even a 10-ball over from Munaf Patel that went for 21 at the start of the innings wasn't a worry for Mumbai.
Enter Mayank Agarwal, one of the Indian space-fillers in the side. Agarwal signalled his intentions soon after he came in, reaching 40 from 24 balls before the start of the last over. Harbhajan might have bowled himself, but chose to throw the ball to Munaf.
Munaf had already conceded 30 from his first three overs, but couldn't have had an inkling of what he was getting into. Agarwal took him on with two sixes and two fours as 24 came off the last over. At that stage, Agarwal appeared to have changed the complexion of the game completely with his unbeaten 30-ball 64.
If the last over of the Bangalore innings had roused the capacity crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, the first over of the Mumbai reply made things even better. Sachin Tendulkar, in the middle of a lean run, drove Zaheer Khan uppishly to Kohli at short cover to be dismissed for a first-ball duck. As if that wasn't enough, Herschelle Gibbs and Rohit Sharma also fell within the fourth over, and the advantage was clearly with the hosts.
The wickets continued to fall and the run-rate continued to mount, and went into double digits as the Mumbai innings reached its latter half. And even as Mumbai looked for some impetus through Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu, Muttiah Muralitharan came in to bowl an outstanding spell of one for 16 from his four overs. The asking rate was close to 15 at that stage.
The writing was indelible on the wall. Except that Rayudu didn't seem to pay attention to it. Pollard gave Rayudu good company as he marked out Zaheer and R Vinay Kumar for some really harsh treatment. Sixes and fours flowed from Rayudu's bat as the equation came down to 23 off the last two overs and then 14 off the last one, bowled by Gayle. Easy, especially once Pollard found his slogs going where he wanted them to.
In the end, Rayudu and Pollard were unbeaten on 81 and 52 respectively. Mumbai's win with two balls to spare was a huge step towards the play-offs.