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Rohit special downs Gilchrist-less Kings XI in high scoring thriller

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Over the course of IPL 2013, there have been several versions of Mumbai Indians, who have turned up on the field. Rohit Sharma's Mumbai Indians, lacking the clinical approach they displayed in the previous game, let Kings XI off the hook after a resplendent batting performance . Rohit led from the front with a remarkable innings at a break-neck speed as Mumbai piled up a massive 174-3. The spirited Punjab side made a fist of the challenge keeping the chase alive till the very last ball before eventually falling short by 4 runs. Mumbai's razor-sharp fielding, in sharp contrast to Punjab's sloppiness proved the difference in a tight affair.

The last time Adam Gilchrist strode out for the toss against Kolkata, he said he was tantalizingly close to stepping aside because of his repeated failures. Believe it or not, Gilly has only tallied 94 in as many as 8 games. Tonight he sat out to pave way for Shaun Marsh with David Hussey leading the side in his conspicuous absence.

Marsh did not create any impact though, falling to Pragyan Ojha with Pollard plucking out a one-handed catch, his second of the night. At 60-3, KXIP was looking up to David Hussey to revive the chase. Hussey (still smarting from the game-changing final over) briefly threatened before he holed out in the deep. The spin twins- Bhajji (3-14) and Ojha (2-22) combined well to hike the required rate.

Refusing to yield, David Miller(56) and Praveen Kumar(24) landed some meaty blows but it ended in vain.

Kumar's penultimate ball six left Punjab needing 5 off the last delivery. Buckling under pressure, PK sliced a juicy full toss right down the throat of Sachin at point. The story would have been even closer had umpire Kulkarni not got away unscathed with a waist high no-ball the same crucial over.

There is nothing like a packed stadium in India, cheering one of its heroes horse and it peaks when the player is Sachin Tendulkar and the venue is Mumbai. Sachin gave the crowd good reason to clear their collective throats, hitting a couple of vintage drives past cover earlier in the day. Unfortunately, the master blaster flattered only to deceive, inside-edging a Praveen Kumar delivery back onto the stumps. Dinesh Karthik's knock was then cut short by Manpreet Gony's extra pace and bounce.

Settling on a probing line and length, Kings XI's four pronged pace attack, spear-headed by the wily Praveen Kumar, pushed Dwayne Smith into a tight corner. In a crucial mid passage of play though, Punjab's fielding froze, frittering away the early advantage- Vohra spilled Smith, Chawla let off a four at deep cover, Gurkeerat Singh missed a stumping to gift Kieron Pollard a life. Benefiting from the dropped catch, Dwayne Smith(33) proceeded to raise his strike rate to 103.

Indeed,the presents were overflowing for Mumbai. Pollard received another lucky respite when he was bowled off a Gony no-ball in the ante-penultimate over. Gony, in particular, was picked out for special treatment by Rohit Sharma.

Blending finesse with power, Mumbai's new captain ran amok in the death overs as the Wankhede stadium went baila again. The Trinidadian , meanwhile,was happy to play the pick-up truck for 'Rolls Royce Rohit'.

Rohit Sharma's 39-ball unbeaten 79, including 26 off a debatable last over from David Hussey propelled Mumbai to an imposing total that seemed a pipe-dream at the dawn of the innings. His innings was a montage of magnificent shots ranging from the front foot, elbow cover drive to the precise pull to the lethal loft.

The hi-flying Mumbai Indians will be in action against Hyderabad on Wednesday whist Kings XI will confront their neighbors, the mighty Chennai Super Kings at Chepauk the next day.


MI: D Smith, S Tendulkar, D Karthik(wk), R Sharma, A Rayudu, K Pollard, H Singh, D Kulkarni, M Johnson, L Malinga, P Ojha

KXIP: S Marsh, M Singh, M Vohra, D Hussey(c), D Miller, G Singh(wk), A Mahmood,  P Chawla,  M Gony, P Kumar, P Awana

Mini Scorecard:

MI 174-3 (20 overs, 8.7 rpo)

R Sharma 79*(39) P Kumar 1-24

D Smith 33(32) P Chwala 1-24

KXIP: 170 all out (20 overs, 8.5 rpo)

D Miller 56(34) H Singh 3-14

D Hussey 34(18) P Ojha 2-22

Mumbai win by 4 runs