Mumbai: Two weeks ago, the crowd at the Wankhede was delirious though a fervently hoped-for Sachin Tendulkar century didn't materialise. On Friday, the crowd at the Wankhede was dejected despite Tendulkar crafting a century as Kochi Kerala Tuskers busted their party with one of the most memorable chases in IPL history.
Two of the world's finest Twenty20 batsmen, Brendon McCullum and Mahela Jayawardene, constructed chalk-and-cheese half-centuries to power Kochi's pursuit of 183 against the might of the Mumbai Indians. Both perished to Lasith Malinga's deadly deliveries but Kochi, who had stumbled in the final stretch of their first two games, didn't slip up this time as Ravindra Jadeja and Brad Hodge muscled boundaries to finish the game with an over to spare.
Once Sachin Tendulkar checked off another item on his ever-shrinking to-do list with his first century in Twenty20s and Mumbai ran up a tall total without even needing the awesome hitting-ability of Rohit Sharma, Andrew Symonds and Kieron Pollard, it was assumed that Malinga & Co would make the rest of the game a formality.
McCullum firmly put that assumption to rest by muscling three boundaries between mid-off and cover in Malinga's second over. The next big jump came in the sixth over by Kieron Pollard as McCullum swatted a four past midwicket and Jayawardene eased boundaries behind square on either side of the wicket.
McCullum kept skating out of the crease and lashing the ball through the off side right through his innings while Jayawardene was content shuffling across and using the bowler's pace, rarely powering the ball. The difference between the two batsmen's innings was highlighted in the ninth over as McCullum smashed the first ball over long-on, and Jayawardene reverse-paddled the fifth ball off the back of the bat for four.
With dew making it difficult for the bowlers to grip the ball, both batsmen kept picking off the boundaries. Kochi were in command by the 14th over as they moved to 128 for 0 when Jayawardene deftly poked a Malinga delivery past the keeper to a delighted Kochi dug-out. Next ball, Malinga removed Jayawardene with a yorker which prompted a surprise promotion for Jadeja. McCullum, though, kept Kochi on top with a couple of scythed boundaries in the 17th over which worsened Pollard's poor day.
With 27 needed off three overs, and nine wickets in hand, Mumbai's gambled by bringing on Malinga for his final over. He delivered by bowling McCullum first ball, but Brad Hodge eased Kochi's anxieties with two walloped boundaries in rest of the over. Jadeja, who has received plenty of criticism over the past two years, then justified his promotion with a couple of swiped sixes off Murtaza Ali to finish off Mumbai with an over to go.