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Malinga, Harbhajan lead Mumbai to thrilling late win against Chennai Super Kings

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harbhajan_iplThe Mumbai Indians came back from the dead to shock the defending Champions Chennai Super Kings in the 3rd game of the Champions League T20. Mumbai unearthed an unlikely batting hero in Lasith Malinga whose rapid fire 37 from 18 balls powered Mumbai to an amazing win. Earlier Michael Hussey's 81 from 57 balls guided Chennai to a competitive score of 158. Although Mumbai slumped to 106-7 a fantastic unbeaten partnership between Malinga and new Mumbai skipper Harbhajan Singh allowed a considerably under strength Mumbai to start their CLT20 campaign with a thrilling final over win.

The M.A.Chidambaram stadium at Chennai was bleeding 'Yellow' as the charming city's adopted son Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his 'Superkings' took on an injury-hit Mumbai Indians in the second Group A Match of the Champions League T20. The Mumbai Indians received some rare good news earlier in the week with the CLT20 governing council allowing the side to field 5 overseas players due to their injury concerns.

The defending champions, Chennai won the toss and stuck to their usual ploy of putting runs on the board. The relaid Chepauk wicket, though a very good batting track promised to aid the tweakers. Mumbai's stand in skipper Harbhajan Singh, who has developed into an important senior presence in the side, would be determined to display a spirited show. The 5 foreign players who feature for Mumbai in this cracker of a contest would be Kieron Pollard, Andrew Symonds, Lasith Malinga, Davy Jacobs and Aiden Blizzard. Chennai's line-up meanwhile was largely on expected lines with the usual suspects adorning the famed yellow jerseys.

'Slinga Malinga' who recently said in an interview that he wanted to take a wicket off every delivery started off the proceedings for Mumbai with bustling energy and fire. Michael Hussey freed his arms and lashed Harbhajan Singh past point to bring up the first boundary of the game. Hussey, who was in ominous form coming into the game, stroked the ball with exemplary timing suggesting that he was 'in the zone'. Lasith Malinga then ambushed Murali Vijay with a scorching inswinging yorker that flattened the stumps in the fifth over. As Bhajji kept shuffling his bowlers, Chennai scored a run a ball 36 in the Powerplay for the loss of Vijay.

Suresh Raina after surviving a razor-sharp throw from Yuzvendra Chahal deposited the Mumbai bowlers to the fence and oozed confidence as Hussey was going from strength to strength. Abu Nechim bowled poorly and Chennai pocketed 21 from his 2 overs. Unfortunately, the Superkings lost Raina for 18 as the ball rebounded off Keeper Davy Jacob's pads to disrupt the stumps just when Raina tried to claw back into the crease. Chennai found themselves in a spot of bother with Kieron Pollard and the slower bowlers taking control of the game. Michael Hussey then broke the shackles with a towering six over the bowlers head in and galloped to a deserved half century in the 14th over whilst S. Badrinath batted with circumspection. Chennai, who were 98-2 in the 14th over, would have been hoping for some biggies from their famed lower middle order.

The experienced Hussey shifted gears as the Superkings manufactured 11 runs from Bhajji's 3rd over. A struggling Badrinath holed out to R.Satish in the deep off Abu Nechim for a snail-pace 16. Captain Cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked out to bat amidst wild roars to provide impetus to the Chennai innings. Dhoni spruced up the running between the wickets as the Mumbai fielding encountered a litmus test. Hussey conjured up 3 fours laced with delicacy versus a 'Steaming-in' Malinga in the 18th over and the Aussie warhorse raced to 75. In an attempt to up the tempo further Hussey perished to Nechim for a well-compiled 81. Dhoni's quick fire cameo of 22 at a strike rate touching 170 elevated Chennai to 158-4 in 20 overs.

Chennai who boast of a well rounded bowling line up at their disposal would be looking to choke the depleted Mumbai Indians in their pursuit of the par score.

Mumbai's pocket dynamo Aiden Blizzard and keeper Davy Jacobs steered the visitors to a flying start. Blizzard whipped Doug Bollinger to the boundary ropes twice in the opening over. Dhoni's move of introducing R.Ashwin at the dawn of the innings was expected and instantly Ashwin extracted turn from his home turf. Blizzard's swat off Bollinger over backward point for half a dozen was mesmerising. Ashwin rewarded Dhoni's faith in him by stumping out the dangerous Davy Jacobs with his venomous 'carrom ball' in the 5th over. Mumbai though had constructed 49 runs in the powerplay for the loss of Jacobs.

Deceptive part-timer Suresh Raina replaced R.Ashwin, and got rid of Blizzard for 28 in the first over immediately after the field spread as the ball scurried onto the batsman's stumps. Dwayne Bravo's tricky slower one snarled the talented Ambati Rayudu in the following over as the Chennai bowlers engineered a Mumbai collapse as a wicket was falling in practically ever over.

The swift exit of T.Suman and the bludgeoner Andrew Symonds left them reeling at 67-5 after 10 overs. Umpire Johane Cloete raised his dreaded finger to declare R.Satish lbw to Ashwin in the 12th over. The Super Kings spin trio of Ashwin, Jakati and Raina had strangled Mumbai as the required rate shot up to 10 an over. Ashwin finished off with 2 wickets under his belt at an economy rate below six. Only a Pollard in full tilt would help Mumbai give Chennai a good run for their money!

Pollard's viscious hits offered the visitors a ray of hope, but Albie Morkel dashed Mumbai's hopes and seemed to have hammered the final nail in Mumbai's coffin by dismissing the T20 monster. A clueless Mumbai were tottering at 113-7 at the end of 16 overs. Dramatically, Lasith Malinga's gung-ho tactics earned Mumbai back to back sixes thus making the equation achievable. The Bhajji-Malinga partnership accelerated as they churned out 10 run overs with unbridled agression. Morkel's ill-disciplined 19th over cost the defending champions 14 runs. Mumbai needed to score 11 from the final over to be bowled by Aussie star Doug Bollinger. Malinga and Bhajji accomplished the impossible as Mumbai snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to stun the Super Kings. Their devastating 50 run 8th wicket partnership in just 26 balls brought an end to Chennai's supremacy in their own den, and condemned an out of form skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to another defeat.

Chennai who have a notoriety of being slow starters will have to pull up their socks and sharpen their death over bowling when they lock horns with Cape Cobras on Wednesday the 28th. On the contrary the depleted Mumbai side will savour this fairy tale win and will be keen to keep the momentum flowing when they take on Trinidad & Tobago on Monday.

Squad:

Chennai Superkings: Mahendra Singh Dhoni (captain), Michael Hussey, Murali Vijay, Suresh Raina, S.Badrinath, Albie Morkel, Doug Bollinger, R.Ashwin, Dwayne Bravo, Wriddhiman Saha, Shadab Jakati.

Mumbai Indians: Harbhajan Singh (captain),Kieron Pollard, Lasith Malinga, Aiden Blizzard, Davy Jacobs, Ambati Rayudu, Andrew Symonds,T.Suman, Abu Nechim,R.Satish, Yuzvendra Chahal.

Mini scorecard:

Chennai Super Kings 158/4 (20 overs, 7.9rpo)
Michael Hussey 81(57)  Abu Nechim 2-35
Mahendra Dhoni 22*(13) Kieron Pollard 1-19

Mumbai Indians 159/7 (19.5 overs, 8rpo)
Lasith Malinga 37* (18)   Suresh Raina 2-6
Aiden Blizzard 28(21)   R.Ashwin 2-23

File Photograph Copyright:·Gayatri Naik

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