Lasith Malinga emerged an unlikely hero as a truncated Mumbai Indians snatched a thrilling three-wicket win over title holders Chennai Super Kings in the Nokia Champions League T20 tournament, here on Saturday.
A few lusty blows in the death overs by Malinga, who scored an 18-ball 37 not out, swept Mumbai Indians to a memorable victory that ended the Super Kings' unbeaten run at Chepauk.
Replying to Super Kings' challenging total of 158 for four, courtesy a classic 81 by opener Michael Hussey, the Mumbai Indians, without eight regulars and struggling at 106 for seven in the 16th over, came through in the 20th with Malinga and skipper Harbhajan Singh (19 not out) adding 53 runs in 4.4 overs.
Mumbai needed 25 off the last two overs and Malinga ensured they got those runs to script a believe-it-or-not win. Going into the final over, Mumbai needed 12 and a boundary off the fourth delivery by skipper Harbhajan Singh off Doug Bollinger tied the scores and then he scampered for a single off the fifth delivery to take his team over the line.
Until the Malinga-Harbhajan partnership, Mumbai were never really in the hunt after they allowed Super Kings to race away in the second half of their innings. The hosts, who were 67 for two after 10 overs, got out of the jail with a late blitz, including 12 off the 18th over bowled by Malinga.
Mumbai Indians began their chase promisingly with Aiden Blizzard and Davy Jacobs scoring at a good clip but when Ravichandran Ashwin broke the partnership, it triggered a dramatic collapse as Mumbai lost wickets in a hurry.
Ashwin lured Jacobs out of the crease and had him stumped by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni; Suresh Raina, replacing Ashwin, bowled Blizzard and in the next over, Dwayne Bravo had Ambatti Rayudu caught behind as Mumbai slid to 57 for three. Raina struck again by foxing Tirumalasetti Suman who fell to another stumping by Dhoni.
It brought together two power-hitters, Andrew Symonds and Kieron Pollard, but the expected fireworks did not come about as Bravo had an out-of-sorts Symonds caught in the deep.
With half the side dismissed for just 63 by the 10 over, it was all over bar the shouting although big Kieron Pollard briefly threatened to perform magic, but top-edged a pull shot to be caught behind.
Malinga then struck a few lusty blows to bring Mumbai Indians close to an improbable win that was eventually achieved with a ball to spare.
Earlier, the Super Kings innings was mostly about Hussey who showcased his batting versatility in no uncertain manner with a truly magnificent innings that underlined the touch and form he is in.
In fact, Hussey paced his innings quite beautifully and only sacrificed his wicket at the fag end when he tried to accelerate further. But until then, he dominated the proceedings with a mix of delicate shots and power-packed hits.
Malinga provided Mumbai Indians a great start when he knocked out Murali Vijay with a near-perfect yorker, but was taken off the attack to be preserved for the death overs.
It provided some reprieve for the Super Kings whose No.3 Raina survived a couple of uncomfortable moments facing Malinga before unleashing a few fine shots before departing following a freak incident.
Raina missed a shot off Kieron Pollard and wicketkeeper Jacobs fumbled with a stumping. However, the ball hit the stumper's pads and rolled on to the wickets and Raina was caught just outside the crease.
The Super Kings innings somewhat lost its steam at this juncture with Subramaniam Badrinath unable to get cracking and it was not until his dismissal in the 16th over and the advent of Dhoni did the pace pick up noticeably.
While Hussey duly reached his half-century and then perished in the 19th over, Dhoni delivered a few hefty blows to ensure Super Kings a fighting total.