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The Pune Warrior's hopes of making it to the knockout rounds of the Indian Premier League this season took a turn for the worse on Thursday night as they threw away a game they probably should have won, going down by the narrowest possible margin of 1 run to their proud neighbours, the Mumbai Indians. Pune won the first half of the match, restricting a powerpacked Mumbai line-up to just 120/9, but faltered early in their chase, slipping to 47/4 in the first 10 overs with skipper Harbhajan Singh picking up 2 vital wickets. Mithun Manhas made an unbeaten 42 to keep side in the hunt, but a poor effort with the bat from Sourav Ganguly (16 from 24 balls) and his inopportune dismissal cost Pune dear as they left themselves with one run too many to get in the final over. The win takes the Mumbai Indians into a rather comfortable looking 3rd place with 12 points while Pune are second from bottom with 8, having played a game more than everyone ahead of them in the table.
The Grand Maharashtrian derby finally had a proper derby feel to it this season, with the Pune Warriors leaving their adopted home in Navi Mumbai and moving into the 55,000 seater Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium this season. Both teams came into this game in need of some points with Mumbai hanging on to 3rd place by their fingernails with Pune hoping to overtake them on net run rate with a win tonight. The flip of the coin went Mumbai's way and there were no disappointed Pune fans with that outcome, armed with the knowledge that they would get to see the legendary Sachin Tendulkar in action first up.
There were changes galore for both teams with Pune welcoming back Jesse Ryder and perhaps more importantly Ashok Dinda, and opting to take a predominantly pace attack into this game with Murali Kartik the sole spinner selected. Mumbai went the other way with three spinners in their line-up as the desperately unlucky to have been dropped Pragyan Ojha earned a recall with Robin Peterson and Harbhajan Singh to offer support. Thisara Perera came into the side for a rare game with the injury to Kieron Pollard continuing to give the fringe players a chance to impress.
Murali Kartik took the new ball and there were already worrying signs for Pune with the ball keeping a touch low right from the start. It was an exciting first over and included a massive leg before shout against Tendulkar first ball, which Umpire Asad Rauf correctly turned down. There was also a little bit of swing on offer for the returning Dinda, who showed he had the guts to pitch the ball up to Tendulkar, and delivered a beautiful maiden over. Wayne Parnell started well too, but was dispatched over the in-field for the first boundary of the match on the last ball of his first over by James Franklin. Almost on cue, Tendulkar decided to take on the rookie Dinda in his next over, dispatching him for three beautifully timed boundaries to bring the game to life. Bhuvnesh Kumar sneaked in an excellent 5th over, conceding just 5 runs, however, a poor over from a very much out of form Ashish Nehra leaked 14 runs to allow Mumbai to finish the powerplay strongly at 42/0.
Pune struck back against the run of play with James Franklin (25) and Rohit Sharma (3) falling in quick succession. Bhuvnesh Kumar continued his excellent spell by breaking the opening partnership for exactly 50, having Franklin caught in the deep. Rohit Sharma, survived a close leg before shout off Michael Clarke and then wandered down the pitch looking for a single, but by the time Tendulkar sent him back, he was out by a country mile. Mumbai were quick to restore the momentum back in their favour by taking 16 runs off the next over to reach 72/2 at the half-way stage of the innings.
After yet another quiet over from Michael Clarke, Ganguly decided to show his confidence in Ashish Nehra by calling him back for the 12th over. Nehra responded by getting rid of the biggest fish of them all, Tendulkar, caught behind for 34 attempting to run the ball down to third man. Armed with confidence, Nehra was suddenly a very different bowler and the former Indian pacer bounced out Robin Peterson for 13. Going into the strategic time-out, Mumbai were in a spot of bother at 89/4.
Pune landed another big blow immediately after the break with Ganguly getting his bowling changes spot on with Bhuvnesh cleaning up the stumps of a very much in-form Ambati Rayudu for just 1. It was a poor shot from Rayudu though, stepping away to the legside and attempting to carve the ball behind point just moments after coming in. Thisara Perera's Mumbai debut had a nightmarish start as he was run out for a 4-ball naught with Nehra sneaking in a 1-run 16th over of the innings. The very next ball Harbhajan Singh fell for a first ball duck to Ashok Dinda as Mumbai's innings was in complete tatters at 93/7.
Mumbai found a saviour in Lasith Malinga with the Lankan quickie ruining Ashok Dinda's figures by dispatching the Bengal pacer for 17 runs in the penultimate over of the innings. He was run out though in the last over for 14, beaten by a rocket throw from long-off from Steve Smith. A fourth run out of the innings on the last ball meant that Mumbai finished at 120/9, completely losing their way in the second half of their innings, losing 7 wickets for 48 runs in the last 10 overs.
Pune made a slightly surprising decision to bump Robin Uthappa back up the order to open the innings with Jesse Ryder, especially considering that the Indian may have been a better choice against the spinners later in the game. Uthappa, who despite being Pune's highest run-getter in the tournament, has been scratchy and had struggled of late to score at his customary pace. There was no holding back from him today though as a maximum off Munaf Patel in just the second over of the innings signalled his intentions. Patel though responded to the challenge by trapping Uthappa leg before in his next over for 18. Pune ended the powerplay at a sedate 37/1 and it became rather evident that this game was going to go down to the wire.
Mumbai stormed back into the contest by picking up the wickets of Jesse Ryder (9) and Michael Clarke (14) in quick succession with skipper Harbhajan Singh picking up both crucial scalps. Ryder was caught in the deep, while Clarke was adjudged leg before, a debatable decision. Pragyan Ojha then celebrated his return to the side with a wicket as he bowled Steve Smith for 2 in his second over to leave Pune in a world of trouble at 47/4.
The arrival of two Indian batsmen in Sourav Ganguly and Mithun Manhas saw Harbhajan Singh turn to his seamers with James Franklin and Thisara Perera given a chance to make a breakthrough. It was the Warriors though who responded with a much needed partnership. Manhas was doing the bulk of the scoring while Ganguly was scoring at less than a 50% strike rate.
Ganguly struck a boundary in Malinga's next over, but also fell on the final delivery, bowled for 16 by a slower delivery. Mithun Manhas and Wayne Parnell managed to squeeze out 11 runs in the next over to bring the equation down to 16 from 12 balls. Malinga removed Parnell (2) in the next over and conceded just 4 runs to give Munaf Patel 12 runs to defend in the final over. Patel started really well, bringing the equation to 8 from 2 before Bhuvnesh Kumar, who did so well with the ball earlier, dispatched the ball over extra cover for a boundary. The final ball was a full toss on leg stump, and Pune ran two runs to fall one short of what would have been a deserved win.
A delighted Mumbai will make the short trip back home where they take on the Chennai Super Kings in what should be a cracker of a contest between two struggling sides on Sunday. Pune meanwhile are in action a day earlier as Sourav Ganguly takes his side into sacred territory that is the Eden Gardens in what should be some thrilling fare.
Pune: J Ryder, M Clarke, S Ganguly (c), R Uthappa (wk), S Smith, M Manhas, W Parnell, A Dinda, B Kumar, M Kartik, A Nehra.
Mumbai: S Tendulkar, J Franklin, R Sharma, A Rayudu, D Karthik (wk), T Perera, P Ojha, H Singh (c), R Peterson, M Patel, L Malinga.
Mumbai Indians 120/9 (20 overs, 6rpo)
S Tendulkar 34 (35) A Nehra 2-19
J Franklin 25 (23) B Kumar 2-9
Pune Warriors 119/6 (20 overs, 5.95rpo)
M Manhas 40* (30) H Singh 2-18
R Uthappa 18 (18) L Malinga 2-25
Mumbai win by 1 run
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