Rohit shines in MI’s 4-run victory over Kings XI Punjab

Mumbai, April 29:Captain Rohit Sharma's scintillating batting made all the difference in the end as Mumbai Indians beat Kings XI Punjab by a narrow four runs in a nail-biting Pepsi IPL clash in Mumbai on Monday.

Opting to bat, Sharma led from the front with a blistering unbeaten 79 off just 39 balls as Mumbai posted a challenging 174 for three before Punjab were bowled out for 170 in the match that went down the wire.

David Miller (56 off 34 balls) and later Praveen Kumar (24 off 15 balls) kept Punjab in the hunt till the end before the latter was out in the last ball of the innings in the match which kept the full-house crowd at the Wankhede Stadium on the edge of their seats throughout.

For Mumbai, Harbhajan was the pick of the bowlers as he grabbed three wickets for 14 runs while Mitchell Johnson, Dhawal Kulkarni and Pragyan Ojha took two wickets each.

With their third straight victory and second at home, Mumbai remained firmly in the hunt for a berth in knock-out phase as they jumped to fourth place with 12 points from nine matches. Punjab are now on sixth spot with eight points from nine matches.

Chasing the big score, Punjab lost half their side before the score had reached 80 and were then all out for 170 despite a valiant attempt by Miller and a fighting knock by Praveen.

David Hussey, who captained Punjab after regular skipper Adam Gilchrist decided to sit out, made 34 in 18 balls before the left-handed Miller kept them afloat by cracking five sixes and one four in 34 balls.

Miller's late charge helped reduce the target to 37 in three overs before he was caught at short extra cover off the leading edge while trying to hoist Johnson for another leg side six when 26 were needed.

The last pair of Praveen, who struck two sixes and one four, and Parvinder Awana (0 not out) took the game to the last over before the former was caught by Sachin Tendulkar off Kulkarni off the last ball of the match.

A stunning catch inches inside the long on boundary by Kieron Pollard showcased MI's efficient fielding display.

Punjab began the run chase on the rear foot by losing the wickets of Mandeep Singh (9) and Manan Vohra (1) to Lasith Malinga and Johnson in the second and third over when the score had not reached 20 and it became a steeper climb for the visitors.

Opener Shaun Marsh (10), picked to play in place of captain Gilchrist, and Hussey flourished briefly in a third wicket stand of 39 before the lanky figure of Pollard plucked an impossible catch with a giant leap on the long-on rope to send back the former.

It would have been a sure six off left-arm spinner Ojha had any other fielder been stationed there.

Marsh was followed into the hut shortly by Hussey, who hit five fours and a six, and stumper Gurkeerat Singh Mann off Ojha and Harbhajan Singh respectively as the visitors plunged to a sorry 79 for five in the 10 over.

Though Miller attacked at one end, the visitors lost wickets at regular intervals at the other.
Earlier, captain Rohit Sharma, who turns 26 on Tuesday, smashed a blistering unbeaten 79 off 39 balls to power Mumbai to 174 for three after opting to bat.

Sharma struck six sixes and as many fours in his knock to take Mumbai from 43 for two in the eighth over to a big score. Other significant contributors for Mumbai were Dwayne Smith (33), Dinesh Kartik (25) and Kieron Pollard (20 not out).

Sharma put on 43 runs for the third wicket with Smith and an 88 runs with Pollard for the unfinished fourth wicket. The highlight of his innings was the three sixes and two fours he hit in the final over bowled by Kings XI captain David Hussey who conceded 27 runs in that over

The best bowling effort for Kings XI came from Praveen Kumar (1 for 24) and Piyush Chawla (1 for 24).

Mumbai made a disastrous start with Sachin Tendulkar dragging a ball from Praveen Kumar on to his stumps in the third over. He made just nine with two fours, his fifth single digit score in the tournament in nine innings.

In-form batsman Dinesh Kartik eased the pressure by hitting Praveen for a four and a six in consecutive balls in the fifth over at the end of which MI were 28 for one.
At the end of the sixth and last power play over, Mumbai were 36 with Karthik and Dwayne Smith at the crease.

Karthik looked good for a big score before he too dragged the ball on to his stumps off Manpreet Gony after pulling the bowler for a four off the previous ball as MI were reduced to 43 for two in eighth over. Karthik's 25 came off 19 balls.

Smith, dropped on 13, struck Chawla for a mighty six but fell top-edging the leg-spinner. The West Indian made 33 in 32 balls with one six and three fours.

Sharma carted the expensive Gony for a four and a six in the 16th over to up the tempo. He then reached his fourth half ton of the T20 league with a superbly timed straight loft for his third six off Gony in 18th over.

Gony bowled Kieron Pollard in the same over but replays showed it was a no-ball and the West Indian survived.

MI added 73 runs in the last five overs, including 27 in the last over bowled by David Hussey who was struck for three huge sixes and two fours by Sharma.

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