Mumbai defend 120 by one run


In the end, Mumbai Indians deserved two points for having rendered a target of 121 so difficult that Pune Warriors played catch-up for most of the chase. And the one-run margin magnified the impact of Sourav Ganguly’s crawl in the final analysis. There were other Warriors batsmen who found run-scoring difficult on the low pitch, but they did not hang around for as long as Ganguly did and consequently, did not make it as difficult for the doughty Mithun Manhas as Ganguly did.
When Ganguly arrived at 40 for 2 in the seventh over, the asking-rate was just over six runs an over. By the time he was bowled for 16 off 24 by Lasith Malinga off the last ball of the 17th over, slogging and missing tamely, the asking-rate had climbed to nine. Manhas tried to make the most of the strike he got in a 47-run fifth-wicket stand in which Ganguly contributed 13. But he was up against a class Mumbai Indians attack, and with Malinga to bowl two overs at the death, Warriors’ chances diminished even further. They needed 12 off the final over, but Munaf Patel managed to hold them off, just about. The early damage had been done by Munaf when he trapped Robin Uthappa lbw, after the batsman had kickstarted the chase with some big strokes. Mumbai Indians’ battery of specialist spinners – though one of them, Robin Peterson, was never used – then broke the back of Warriors’ chase. Jesse Ryder chipped Harbhajan Singh to long-on, Michael Clarke got a rough lbw decision and Steven Smith walked past a Pragyan Ojha delivery to be bowled. Warriors had slipped from 40 for 1 to 47 for 4 but with 74 needed from 61, they were right in the game still.
Ganguly’s innings ensured they slowly went out of it. He was on 12 off 22 at one stage, unable to earn anything more than singles. He managed to make room and lift Malinga down the ground for a four, but was bowled in the same over. Manhas wasn’t giving up, though. Backing himself to cut almost everything, he and Wayne Parnell took 11 off Pragyan Ojha in the 18th over. But Harbhajan had another over from Malinga left, and it did what Morne Morkel’s penultimate over had done for Delhi Daredevils against Rajasthan Royals. Malinga gave just four runs, and left Warriors with too much to do in the last over.
With eight needed off the last two balls, Bhuvneshwar Kumar drilled Munaf over extra cover for four, but could only hit a low full toss – the final ball – to deep midwicket as Warriors ended agonizingly short.
That Mumbai Indians managed even 120 was down to the opening partnership between Sachin Tendulkar and James Franklin. Mumbai Indians did not begin badly for a side that has now changed its opening combination seven times in ten matches. Well past the halfway stage of the tournament, they might have finally even found the combination that clicks. Tendulkar and Franklin added fifty-plus runs for the third time in as many matches, but Mumbai Indians could not build much on that base, losing 5 for 12 from a position of 81 for 2 after 12 overs.
Warriors were accurate with their fast bowlers. Smith led the way in the field with three run-outs, two of them at crucial junctures. He first ran out Rohit Sharma to dent Mumbai Indians after the steady start, and then caught Thisara Perera short to hurt their hopes of a lower-order fightback.
Ashish Nehra recovered from an expensive first over to go for just five runs in his next three overs. It was Nehra who triggered the collapse, getting Tendulkar to edge a steer to the wicketkeeper in the 12th over. He then surprised Peterson with a skiddy short delivery in the 14th, and the top-edged pull was taken by Ganguly. The middle-order implosion undid the decent start from Tendulkar and Franklin. The duo were kept quiet by Warriors but took Nehra and Ashok Dinda for an expensive over each to ensure the run-rate did not suffer much. Bhuvneshwar got the breakthrough in the eighth over when Franklin top-edged a pull.
Tendulkar could not pick up his scoring-rate beyond a run a ball, and after he fell, Mumbai Indians stalled. Ganguly could not score at remotely close to a run a ball, and after he finally fell, it was too late for Warriors, who have now lost six of their last seven games.
Scores: Mumbai Indians 120 for 9 (Tendulkar 34, Bhuvneshwar 2-9, Nehra 2-19) beat Pune Warriors 119 for 6 (Manhas 42*, Harbhajan 2-18, Malinga 2-25) by one run