Put in a decent show in the death overs and there's always a chance of winning a Twenty20 mach. So it was when Mumbai Indians hosted Kings XI Punjab at Wankhede Stadium on Monday (April 29), where Mumbai won by four runs in a match that got too close for comfort towards the end.
Rohit Sharma, the Mumbai captain, was at the root of Mumbai's batting effort, clubbing a 39-ball 79. Of those runs 26 came in the final over, bowled by David Hussey, who played the role of Punjab captain after Adam Gilchrist dropped himself. That over proved to be the difference as Mumbai sealed their sixth win in the Pepsi Indian Premier League 2013.
Having opted to bat, Mumbai were under pressure early on with Praveen Kumar and Parvinder Awana keeping things tight. Sachin Tendulkar (9) was bowled by Praveen as Punjab claimed the early advantage, but Dinesh Karthik, Mumbai's in-form player, set about reviving the innings with some big shots, attempting to counter the dipping scoring rate.
There were back-to-back biggies off Praveen, first a boundary and then a six, but after he had scored a 19-ball 25, Karthik fell to Manpreet Gony off a delivery that bounced considerably and Karthik could only fend on to the stumps.
Dwayne Smith, who had been quiet till then with eight from 20 balls, suddenly sprung to life. Consecutive boundaries off Gony and a mighty six against Piyush Chawla meant that he was on his way, even as Rohit provided the support. The two put up 43 for the third wicket but Smith (33 off 32) played one shot too many, falling to Chawla when his big heave found more elevation than distance.
Kieron Pollard, the new man, was subdued and managed only an unbeaten 21-ball 20, even being dismissed by Gony off a no-ball along the way.
But Rohit more than made up for the lapses of the other batsmen. Having started out slowly, he cut loose at the death, and in the last five overs 76 runs were added. Rohit took a fair few runs off Gony and Azhar Mahmood, but he left the best for last with Hussey getting a hammering in the final over. Hussey found it hard to get his length right and Rohit punished him with three consecutive sixes, two of them over long on and one behind midwicket. A wide followed, after which Rohit hit successive fours to take Mumbai to 174 for 3.
Punjab's response was a mess to start with. They lost their two young Indian batsmen, Mandeep Singh and Manan Vohra, within the first three overs. Mandeep (9) fell to an excellent yorker from Lasith Malinga, and in the next over, Vohra (1) lobbed an easy catch to point.
Hussey and Shaun Marsh, who had replaced Gilchrist in the playing XI, attempted to revive the innings and put on 39 for the third wicket with Hussey leading from the front. He hammered Malinga for 15 in one over and then hit consecutive fours and a six off Dhawal Kulkarni, who went for 23 in two overs.
However, Marsh (10) fell to an excellent catch in the deep by Pollard, an effort that rivals the catch he took to dismiss MS Dhoni earlier in the tournament. Hussey himself departed two overs later, having scored an 18-ball 34, and from thereon, there was only one way the match was headed.
Wickets continued to tumble, but David Miller's innings of 56, which included five meaty sixes, caused Mumbai some worries later on. He was dismissed in the 18th over by Johnson, but Punjab still had a chance with Praveen displaying some handy batting skills. It came down to five from the last ball, but Mumbai prevailed with Punjab bowled out for 170.