Mumbai: Off-spinner Harbhajan Singh led a clinical bowling show with a five-wicket haul after Rohit Sharma’s batting heroics as Mumbai Indians (MI) scored a thrilling eight-run victory over defending champions Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in an Indian Premier League (IPL) clash on Friday.
Mumbai posted a challenging 164 for four after being put into bat, thanks to a 48-ball 87 by Rohit and then Harbhajan (5/18) produced this IPL season’s second five-wicket haul to give the home side their fourth win in five games.
Harbhajan’s MI team-mate Lasith Malinga was the first to take five wickets this season with five for 13 against Delhi Daredevils on 10 April.
The home side also produced a superb fielding show with the match turning their way with Kieron Pollard taking a stunning forward diving catch to remove Michael Hussey in the fifth over.
With this win at the Wankhede Stadium, MI surged to sole top slot with eight points.
Chasing a challenging total of 165, CSK lost wickets at regular intervals, including three in the 18th over from man of the match Harbhajan to be left stranded at 156 for nine.
Subramaniam Badrinath made a fighting, unbeaten 71 from 48 balls while Hussey scored 41 in 33 balls for a losing cause while the rest of the batsmen caved in meekly.
It was Harbhajan who took the bowling honours in the match with his five-wicket haul while Kieron Pollard took two catches, one of them a fabulous diving catch to send back danger man Hussey off Malinga.
Malinga, who on Friday announced his retirement from Test cricket, ended up with fine figures of two for 20 while Munaf Patel and Pollard took a wicket apiece to help last year’s runners-up Mumbai defeat their arch-rivals for the fourth time in eight meetings in IPL history.
Chennai began their reply by losing two wickets within the first five overs with Murali Vijay departing after scoring 12 and Suresh Raina caught and bowled for five by Harbhajan. The double strike left Chennai at 38 for two in the fifth over.
Hussey and Badrinath then put on 60 runs for the third wicket in 6.4 overs to put their side on course of the run chase. Both used the pace of the bowlers to find the gaps with nudges, flicks and off-glides.
Badrinath outscored his Australian partner by finding the gaps with aplomb. He also stepped out once to Rohit to slam the bowler for a six over the straight field.
However, Hussey surged past his partner by striking two fours off R Satish, the seventh bowler to be used by Tendulkar, in successive balls.
Just when he looked set for big innings, Hussey was dismissed by Malinga who came back for his second spell. The Sri Lankan had Hussey caught brilliantly by Pollard, who dived full length in front at short mid wicket, when the batsman swatted at a bouncer on to his face.
The gangling Pollard, who had taken an acrobatic catch in the previous match to send back Pune’s Robin Uthappa to turn the tide, was once again the man in the centre stage with his stupendous catching.
Then the West Indian dismissed CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni with a rank bad ball which the Indian captain mistimed and the ball ballooned towards third man where Rohit brought off the second stunning catch of the innings after running a few yards to his left.
Chennai had lost two important wickets within seven balls and for the addition of three runs to give back the initiative to their opponents.
Badrinath and S Anirudha (9) put the innings back on track for a brief while with a stand of 22 runs before the latter was caught in the deep off a full-toss from Harbhajan, leaving CSK the task of getting 42 runs in the last four overs with five wickets in hand.
Badrinath completed his fifty in 37 balls with six fours and a six, with clever batting and after the 17th over his side required 32 in 18 balls.
But three wickets in five balls in the 18th over bowled by Harbhajan pushed Chennai to the brink as they lost Albie Morkel (3), R Ashwin (0)and Joginder (0) to be left facing defeat at 137 for eight after the 18th over.
Chennai needed 25 from the last over and Badrinath took 16 off Munaf Patel.
Earlier, Rohit Sharma cracked a blistering 87 to help Mumbai rally strongly and put up a challenging 164 for four.
Rohit, who came to the crease at the fall of skipper Sachin Tendulkar in the fourth over, put on half century stands with Ambati Rayudu (27) and Andrew Symonds (31 not out) to help the home team recover from 13 for two.
He was finally out in the last over holing out to long on fielder Michael Hussey off Doug Bollinger.
Thanks to Rohit, who hit five sixes and eight fours from 48 balls, and his partnerships of 61 with Rayudu and of 87 with Symonds, who hit two sixes and a four in 36 balls, Mumbai could post a challenging total after they had lost both their openers Rajagopal Satish (0) and Tendulkar (5).
For Chennai, Doug Bollinger grabbed two for 30 while Albie bowled a splendid four-over spell, including one maiden over, to take 1-19.
Mumbai began their innings with a new partner for Tendulkar, Satish replacing James Franklin who opened in the previous game against Pune. But the move did not click as Satish failed to get going and that put pressure on Tendulkar.
Facing the first over from Albie Morkel after his team was asked to take first strike, Satish failed to connect all the deliveries barring one which ended up as a near-catch to the point region and the opening over was a maiden.
Tendulkar started promisingly with a superb back-foot cover-drive in the next over from left-arm Doug Bollinger who began with four wides.
But Satish fell off the very first ball in Morkel’s second over, spooning a tame catch to Srikkanth.
Bollinger dealt MI a big blow when he induced Tendulkar to a pull shot with a short ball and the champion batsman gloved it to give a dolly catch to slip fielder Michael Hussey to leave MI tottering at 13 for two in fourth over.
Rohit, who had completed Mumbai’s victory over Pune two days ago with a six, began in splendid fashion by square driving Bollinger for two boundaries in the same over.
The talented Mumbai batsman then flicked Morkel, who bowled four overs at a stretch for 20 runs and was able to extract appreciable movement off the pitch, for a four.
Rohit slammed the first six of the contest by hoisting Joginder Sharma, playing in his first match of the season after replacing Shadab Jakati, over long on.
Mumbai, 41 for two after the power play six-over period, reached 50 in the eighth over and 67 for two after 10th over.
Rayudu (27) departed in the 11th over after having added 61 runs with Rohit in 7.3 overs. Lured by Randiv, he gave the bowler the charge but was deceived by a straight ball and Dhoni made an easy stumping. He hit four fours in 29 balls.
In the same over, Rohit essayed a classy lofted cover-drive off Randiv and later struck the bowler straight to the sight screen for his second six to bring up his 50 in 31 balls and the team’s 100 in the 15th over.
The 16th over bowled by Joginder proved expensive for CSK with Rohit hitting the pacer for two fours and Symonds carting him over long on for a six. Sixteen runs came off it.
Rohit even scored a scooped six off Bollinger in the 18th over. He went hammer and tongs against Suresh Raina by slamming him for two sixes in 19th over.