Mumbai Indians presented Sachin Tendulkar a memorable gift on his 40th birthday by pulling off a thrilling five-wicket victory over defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders.
Harbhajan Singh played villain-turned-saviour in the hard-fought win. He conceded 26 runs in the very first over, but he hit an audacious six in the third ball of the last over. Chasing a stiff target of 160, Mumbai Indians were 150 for four at the end of 19th over with Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu in the middle.
Bowling the last over, medium pacer Rajat Bhatia set the jam-packed Eden on fire as he had Pollard caught by Manoj Tiwary at mid-on off the first ball. But Harbhajan turned it around, smashing the third delivery over mid-wicket fence for a huge six. Rayudu, then, hit the winning runs when drove the fifth ball to the extra-cover boundary.
This was Mumbai Indians’ fourth win and they kept their chances alive for the play-offs with eight points from seven games. On the other hand, Kolkata suffered their second successive loss at home to remain seventh.
It was good team effort with six players contributing. Dwayne Smith stood out among them, hitting a 45-ball 62. Leading the side in place of out-of-form Ricky Ponting, Rohit Sharma played a cameo of 34 (28 balls, 1x4, 2x6), while Pollard contributed a valuable 33 (24 balls, 2x4, 1x6). Mystery spinner Sunil Narine took KKR to the brink of victory, dismissing Tendulkar, Smith and Sharma. But his spin partner Sachithra Senanayake leaked 50 runs.
In the bowling department, left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, speedster Mitchell Johnson and Lasith Malinga put up impressive performance, bagging two wickets each. After Harbhajan’s horrible first over, the trio bowled in the right areas to help their team fight back. Malinga’s patent toe-crushing yorkers finally delivered the desired results as he picked up two wickets in the last over, castling Tiwary and Debabrata Das.