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Mumbai Indians won the toss and elected to field first. They had to leave out Saurabh Tiwary, who had a slight niggle and his place was taken by the left-arm spinner, Ali Murtaza. South African seamer Ryan McLaren managed to get into the playing XI ahead of West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo. Mumbai also had another South African, Jean Paul Duminy, also in the team giving them a bit more exposure to local conditions. The Lions didn't have any surprises in their line-up going in with the same XI that had lost in the final of South Africa's domestic T20 tournament, the Standard Bank Pro20 Series.
The Lions' openers, Alviro Petersen and Jonathan Vandiar, got off to a jittery start. Sachin Tendulkar decided to open with Murtaza at one end. The move nearly paid off when Petersen skied an attempted sweep but fortunately for the batsman, the ball landed in the middle of three converging fielders. Petersen didn't hesitate in taking the aerial route and that earned him a couple of boundaries. The Lions were moving steadily when disaster struck in the form of a run-out. Petersen flicked a ball from Murtaza to the left of Shikhar Dhawan and Vandiar set-off for a run immediately. Dhawan dived towards the ball and forced Petersen back into his crease. But Vandiar kept on running and by the time the ball was thrown back to the bowler, both batsmen were at the striker's end. Petersen (12) was the one who had to leave the field as a result of the mix-up after a 24-run opening stand.
Richard Cameron, a hard-hitter of the cricket ball, came in at number 3. He tried to go after the bowlers and managed to clear the fielders a couple of times until he mis-hit an aerial shot off McLaren straight to Zaheer Khan at mid-on. Meanwhile, Vandiar, who had got off to a slowish start, decided to put his foot on the accelerator. Duminy came on for a one over spell and Vandiar smashed him out of the park. Vaughn Van Jaarsveld, who has enjoyed considerable success at this venue in the past, walked in at the fall of Cameron (9), but this was not going to be his day and he holed out at long-on for 13 to give Sri Lankan pace star Lasith Malinga his first wicket.
The Lions were still in a pretty comfortable position at 85 for 3 after 11 overs and they reached the 100-run mark in the 13th over. Vandiar got to his half-century with an excellent shot over extra-cover that cleared the boundary. Former South African international Neil McKenzie was the new man in, and he took no time to get going as the duo took the Lions forward. They went after the bowlers and the run-rate started to rise. Tendulkar rotated his bowlers plenty, but could do nothing to stem the flow of runs. The 50-run partnership was up in just 28 deliveries and the Lions looked set for a score in excess of 175. Vandiar smashed Malinga out of the ground but he fell for 71 (48b) on the very next ball, caught while trying to force a full delivery past extra cover. Robert Frylinck was promoted up the order to go after the bowlers, but he was castled by a typical Malinga yorker on just the second delivery he faced.
The Lions were on 147 with three more overs to go. McKenzie was the key batsman out in the middle and he kept on finding the boundaries at this crucial stage. He reached his half-century in just 28 deliveries with a massive six off Zaheer Khan on the first ball of the final over. Zander de Bruyn played his part too, getting two crucial boundaries in the over. Zaheer gave away 17 runs in the 20th over and that helped the Lions to reach a very competitive total of 186 for 5. Vandiar did most of the damage in the early overs with the bat and he received excellent support from McKenzie (56 n.o.) in the latter half of the innings. The Mumbai Indians had a big total to chase and they needed a good start to get the momentum back in their favour.
Ethan O'Reilly struck the master, Tendulkar, right in front of the stumps in the second over, but umpire Asoka De Silva inexplicably turned down the appeal. Tendulkar made full use of this stroke of luck and along with Dhawan, got Mumbai off to a good start. There were some mix-ups out in the middle in the early overs, but the fielding side couldn't knock the stumps down on any of those occasions. Tendulkar kept the scoreboard ticking with the ones and twos even when he wasn't able to find the boundaries. Dhawan wasn't able to score as freely as Tendulkar, but the duo still managed to take Mumbai Indians past the half-century mark in the 7th over. More often than not, this would have been considered a good start but in this case the required run-rate had already climbed over ten runs an over. Having said that, Tendulkar was looking in very good touch and with the likes Kieron Pollard waiting to come, the game was pretty much in the balance.
Left arm spinner, Aaron Phangsio was brought into the attack soon after the powerplay and Tendulkar decided to go after him right-away. A couple of boundaries helped Mumbai get 11 runs in Aaron's first over. Tendulkar's strategy continued in his next over too. Dhawan also joined in, hittingÂ PhangsioÂ over the mid-wicket boundary. But the bowler finally had something to smile about when he got Dhawan (32) caught at short third man while the batsman was going for a reverse sweep. An 83-run opening stand had set up a nice platform for the men to come. Mumbai lost their second wicket the over after when a slight hesitation cost Ambati Rayudu his wicket. He played the ball towards point and Tendulkar was quick to get off the blocks but Rayudu (3) stopped for a moment on his way and that led to his downfall.
Tendulkar reached his half-century off just 30 deliveries, getting to the landmark with a boundary. Duminy nearly fell even before he could open his account, but Cameron failed to hold on to a return catch. Mumbai reached their 100 in the 12th over and they were left to get 87 runs in the last 48 deliveries. Tendulkar kept going after the bowlers and he was soon joined by Duminy. The Lions finally got the wicket they wanted when Shane Burger made a mess off Tendulkar's stumps. The skipper departed for a well made 69 and he was replaced by the big man, Pollard. An excellent 16th over from O'Reilly left Mumbai with 47 to get off the last 4 overs.
That's when Pollard exploded. Burger was taken for 16 runs off his first five deliveries, which included two effortless sixes and a boundary. But the bowler had the last laugh when he bowled Pollard (19) with an excellent yorker. That wicket put the Lions back in front. Duminy (30) tried to play the big shots but he couldn't find the boundaries and he fell while trying to clear long-off off De Bruyn. Rajagopal Satish smashed one out of the ground to give Mumbai some hope. The batting side needed 16 to win off the final over, but Frylinck kept them down to just 6 runs. Satish was run-out in the process while trying to go for a second run that never existed and Mumbai ended on 177 for 6, nine runs short of what the Lion's had got.
Jonathan Vandiar was awarded the man-of the-match for his wonderful knock. Tendulkar probably missed a trick with his bowling changes and that allowed the home team to get a big total. Ryan McLaren bowled only a single over giving away just four runs whereas Harbhajan Singh bowled three overs for 22. Vandiar and McKenzie put together a crucial 64-run partnership for the Lions and Zaheer's last over that cost 17 runs didn't help Mumbai either. Mumbai's openers laid down a good foundation for the rest to follow. Tendulkar played an excellent hand but Burger got him at an important stage. Pollard threatened to take the game away, but Burger accounted for him too and that was probably the turning point of the match. The Lions will be brimming with confidence when they face the South Australian Redbacks in their next match on Sunday. Mumbai, meanwhile, have to get their act together as a defeat in their next matchÂ on Tuesday the 14th, incidentally also against the Redbacks, could end their hopes of a spot in the semi-final.
Lions: Jonathan Vandiar, Alviro Petersen (capt.), Richard Cameron, Vaughn van Jaarsveld, Neil McKenzie, Zander de Bruyn, Robert Frylinck, Thami Tsolekile (wk), Shane Burger, Aaron Phangiso, Ethan O'Reilly
Mumbai Indians: Shikhar Dhawan, Sachin Tendulkar (capt), Ambati Rayudu (wk), JP Duminy, Kieron Pollard, R Sathish, Harbhajan Singh, Ryan McLaren, Zaheer Khan, Lasith Malinga, Ali Murtuza
Highveld Lions 186 for 5 (20 overs, 9.3 rpo)
J Vandiar 71 (48)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â L Malinga 3-33
N McKenzie 56* (30)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A Murtaza 1-28
Mumbai Indians 177 for 6 (20 overs, 8.85 rpo)
S Tendulkar 69 (42)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â S Burger 2-33
S Dhawan 32 (30)Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â A Phangsio 1-26
Lions win by 9 runs
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