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Champions League winners Mumbai Indians were outplayed for 38 overs, but some incredible powerhitting by Robin Peterson (16* from 7) and Ambati Rayudu (34* from 17) saw them pick up a far from deserving win against an unfortunate Kings XI Punjab side on Wednesday afternoon. Batting first, Punjab posted a competitive total of 168/3 from their 20 overs thanks to an excellent unbeaten 68 (40b) from stand-in skipper David Hussey. The Aussie was well supported by young Protea David Miller (34* from 17), sharing an excellent 89 run stand for the 4th wicket from just 43 balls. Mumbai struggled to 137/6 from 18 overs in response, and the game looked as good as over when Peterson came to the crease to face his first delivery from Piyush Chawla. However, the Indian legspinner conceded 27 runs in an incredible over which witnessed two switch hit 4s and then 3 sixes which turned the tide Mumbai's way, with the favourites finally sneaking home with a ball to spare.
A dry slow pitch greeted the Mumbai Indians in Mohali as the 'paper tigers' of the Indian Premier League looked to put consecutive defeats behind them and begin their climb up the points table. The Indians, who had featured just three overseas players in their last game, decided to take full advantage of the four foreigners rule this time around, recalling Clint McKay for what should be an ideal wicket for him in Mohali, and shockingly dropped Indian left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha and decided to give South African Robin Peterson a game instead. The news from the Kings XI camp was the skipper Adam Gilchrist was still a few days away from recovering from his injury, leaving David Hussey in charge of the team once again. Aussie made an auspicious start to the day by winning the toss and opting to bat first on a track which may just show some indifferent bounce as the game progressed. Kings XI decided to stick with their winning combination for this game.
Robin Peterson was an interesting choice by Mumbai to open the bowling, and the left-arm spinner threw up some gentle floaters to sneak through the over for just 3 runs. The three Mumbai seamers shared the next 4 overs between them with RP Singh bowling a bit of a mixed bag, while Clint McKay looked hopelessly out of form bowling a lot of short pitched stuff. Munaf Patel too was hardly menacing and the rookie Punjab opening pair of Mandeep Singh and Nitin Saini were able to cruise to 35/0 in 5 overs. Harbhajan Singh showed his lack of captaincy experience by switching his bowlers around a little needlessly, and also dropped a hard low chance at short midwicket, a position he rarely fields at. Mumbai got a stroke of luck in the 6th over as Mandeep fell for 22 to a short wide delivery from RP Singh. Shaun Marsh opened his account with a nicely timed boundary through the leg side as Kings XI Punjab ended the powerplay at a competitive 44/1.
Mumbai improved their bowling length remarkably after the powerplay as Munaf snuck in a rare maiden over to Marsh. At the other end, Clint McKay ended Saini's vigil for 17 (22b), and despite the two youngsters giving Punjab a steady start, one couldn't help but wonder if their decision not to fully exploit the powerplay overs could come back to haunt them.
The Aussie duo of Shaun Marsh and David Hussey set about resurrecting the innings and shared a 33 run stand for the 3rd wicket. The runs though were coming far too slowly, and Marsh's attempt to cut loose saw him perish to James Franklin, caught at short cover by Harbhajan for a slow 17 from 26 balls. One left-hander replaced another as South African rookie David Miller joined Hussey in pursuit of a late innings boost. At the end of 15 overs Kings XI had meandered along to 100/3.
Sixteen runs from the 16th over bowled by Kieron Pollard gave the Kings XI Punjab innings a much needed fillip. Runs continued to flow freely towards the end of the innings as Miller smashed a straight 6 off Munaf Patel. Hussey meanwhile continued to pile on the runs, with another maximum taking him past 50. Kings XI finished the innings brilliantly with consecutive sixes from David Miller off Munaf Patel as they plundered 88 runs from the last 7 overs to power the score to 168/3. Miller finished unbeaten on 34 from 17 deliveries, while Hussey made his highest score of the season, a stroke filled 68 (40b).
Mumbai's bowling towards the death was simply outrageous with Munaf Patel guilty of bowling too many low full tosses and being taken for 41 from his 4 overs, while Clint McKay, Harbhajan Singh and Kieron Pollard had all gone at over 9 an over too. Robin Peterson's figures stood out amidst the carnage - 1 over for 3 - as the South African spinner who was drafted in for this game, just wasn't given a bowl after his first over of the match.
Some disciplined bowling from Kings XI meant that there were hardly any poor deliveries on offer during the powerplay and as a result there were only 3 boundaries scored in the first 6 overs. The Punjab in-ring fielders though were quite prepared to allow Mumbai to pick up singles, even when the ball was hit right to them, and that allowed Sachin Tendulkar and James Franklin to keep the scoreboard ticking over at a healthy rate. Mumbai made just 40 runs in the powerplay, but crucially did not lose any wickets. Neither side would have been really unhappy with that outcome, and with another 129 runs to win from 14 overs on a pitch where the older ball was unlikely to come on to the bat, the game was tantalizingly poised.
Tendulkar took a liking to the medium pace of old foe Azhar Mahmood, and welcomed the former Pakistani allrounder to the crease with a boundary. However, shortly after the duo brought up their 50 partnership, Mahmood struck with a gorgeous seam-up delivery which Franklin nicked through to the keeper. Mahmood made it a magical return to Mohali by getting Tendulkar for 34, caught behind off an inside edge to throw the game wide open as Mumbai slid to 59/2.
Dinesh Karthik coming in at no.4, could contribute just 3 runs to the team's cause before he fell victim to Piyush Chawla, with Mahmood continuing to be in the action, taking an easy catch at short fine-leg. All eyes were on new man Kieron Pollard, but it was Rohit Sharma who dug the Mumbai Indians out of a hole with some belligerent hitting off Chawla and Parvinder Awana. Sharma and Pollard shared a quick stand of 24 to which the big West Indian contributed just 3 before he fell to Awana, caught in the deep.
Sharma kept the Indians in the game though, with Ambati Rayudu providing some useful support from the other end. After 17 overs, Mumbai were 129/4, needing exactly 40 to win from 18 balls.
There was no dearth of excitement in this game as Rohit Sharma got to his 50 with a massive 6 over square leg on the first ball of the 18th over. Awana though came back brilliantly to remove the Mumbaikar on the very next delivery, caught at backward point. It was the over that kept giving as the medium pacer removed Harbhajan Singh for a second ball duck with a short delivery. The over conceded just 8 leaving Mumbai with an unlikely 32 to win from 12 balls.
Two switch hit boundaries, followed by a traditional slog sweep from Robin Peterson on the first three balls he faced, propelled Mumbai back into the reckoning. A single on the next ball, which almost resulted in a run out, followed by another two 6s, this time from Ambati Rayudu saw 27 runs scored in the over to blow the game wide open, leaving Mumbai with just 5 to win off the last over. Azhar Mahmood bowled an exemplary final over, conceding just 3 runs from the first 4 balls, but Rayudu thrashed the penultimate ball through the covers for 4 to win the game with a ball to spare.
Mumbai will hope to carry this winning momentum with them to the national capital as they head to Delhi to take on an in-form Daredevils outfit on Friday. Sadly for Punjab, they have an extra day to dwell on this defeat before they head into the lion's den to take on the reigning champions Chennai Super Kings on Saturday.
KXIP: Nitin Saini, Siddharth Chitnis, Shaun Marsh, David Hussey (c), David Miller, Azhar Mahmood, Mandeep Singh, Piyush Chawla, Bhargav Bhatt, Praveen Kumar, Parvinder Awana.
MI: Sachin Tendulkar, James Franklin, Rohit Sharma, Ambati Rayudu, Dinesh Karthik (wk), Harbhajan Singh (c), Kieron Pollard, Clint McKay, Robin Peterson, RP Singh, Munaf Patel
Kings XI Punjab 168/3 (20 overs, 8.4rpo)
D Hussey 68* (40) J Franklin 1-5
D Miller 34* (17) RP Singh 1-27
Mumbai 171/6 (19.5 overs, 8.62rpo)
R Sharma 50 (30) P Awana 3-39
S Tendulkar 34 (29) A Mahmood 2-23
Mumbai win by 4 wickets with a ball to spare
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