Mumbai Indians held their nerves during the death overs as they beat defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets in a thrilling contest in the Pepsi Indian Premier League, here today.
It couldn't have been a better 40th birthday gift for Sachin Tendulkar as MI chased down a 160-run target with a ball to spare as they got back to winning ways after back-to-back defeats against Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils.
Dwayne Smith smashed a 45-ball-62 to create a launchpad for this significant victory for the 'Men In Blue' as Rohit Sharma (34) and Kieron Pollard (33) also chipped in with
For defending champions KKR, this was their fifth defeat and their campaign is slowly turning from bad to worse as they stay on four points from seven games compared to MI's eight points.
KKR's 'Go-To' Man Rajat Bhatia came in to bowl the final over with 10 runs required and immediately removed the dangerous Pollard.
But Harbhajan Singh compensated for his poor show with the ball as he blasted the Delhi veteran over deep mid-wicket which proved to be a decisive blow in the end. With two to get off two balls, Ambati Rayudu hit one over extra cover to close the match.
Tendulkar's (2) hopes of getting big score on his birthday were dashed by 'Mystery Man' Sunil Narine (3/17) who bowled a perfect off-break which breached through the senior pro's defence to knock the middle-stump back.
Dinesh Karthik (7) got a raw deal as the delivery from Sachitra Senanayeke (1/50) looked like going past leg-stump but the glovesman was adjudged leg-before. While Narine was consistent as usual, Senanayeke had a bad day in office as he bowled too many loose deliveries.
Smith however went ahead unflustered by the situation as he singled out left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla for special treatment. Four of his five sixes were hit off Abdulla in the region between deep mid-wicket and long-on.
Smith completed his half-century off 34 balls and Narine finally got him as substitute Brendon McCullum held onto the catch after initially fumbling. The West Indian scored 62 off 45 balls with three fours and five sixes.
Stand-in captain Rohit Sharma (34, 28 balls, 1x4, 2x6) and Pollard added an even 50 in six overs before Narine got his third scalp when Sharma gave a simple return catch as he closed the face of his bat. But MI kept their cool in the end to finish as victors.
Earlier, Kolkata Knight Riders failed to cash in on the initial momentum as Mumbai Indians bowlers came back strongly to restrict the defending champions to 159 for six.
After being hammered for 46 runs in the first three overs, MI bowlers led by Pragyan Ojha (2/22) and Lasith Malinga (2/25) took full advantage of the slowish track giving away only 113 runs in the next 17 overs.
While Jacques Kallis (37), Manoj Tiwary (33) and Eoin Morgan (31) made useful contributions but none of them went onto play a big one. However with Sunil Narine and Sachitra Senanayeke in their ranks, KKR still have a score which they can very well defend.
The final five overs of the innings yielded only 47 runs as Malinga got two wickets giving away only three runs in the final over of the innings.
KKR couldn't have dreamt of a better script when Yusuf Pathan (19) and Guatam Gambhir plundered 26 runs off the very first over bowled by Harbhajan Singh. It included three fours and a six from Pathan while Gambhir also helped himself to a huge six.
But senior Pathan's woeful IPL continued as in the very next over, Micthell Johnson bowled one close to his body and his steer was taken by Harbhajan standing a bit wide off first slip.
Gambhir and Jacques Kallis couldn't fully cash in on the momentum but still added 41 runs for the second wicket before the skipper in his bid to step up the rate holed out to Harbhajan off Ojha's bowling. Gambhir managed 26 off 20 balls with two fours and a six.
Kallis (37, 38 balls, 4x4) as usual dropped anchor and finally got out as his uppish cover drive off Ojha was caught by stand-in skipper Rohit Sharma.
Young Haryana leggie Yuzvendra Chahal (0/34 in 4 overs) also did an admirable job till Tiwary partially damaged his figures with a six and a four.
Morgan tried his innovative shots but slowness of the pitch proved to be a hindrance as he was out after scoring 25-ball-31 (4x4, 1x6) after adding 54 runs with Tiwary (33, 24 balls, 2x4, 1x6) for the fourth wicket.