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October 6, 2013
Mumbai Indians offspinner Harbhajan Singh, whose figures of 4 for 32 won him the Man-of-the-Match award and helped Mumbai claim their second Champions League title, said the over in which he took three wickets was the best spell he had bowled in recent months.
Harbhajan came into the tournament with little practice, having not played a competitive match since the IPL. He was not included in any of India A's recent squads. In a high-scoring final against Rajasthan Royals in Delhi, Harbhajan came on to bowl his final over with Royals requiring 48 off the last four overs with seven wickets in hand. Harbhajan struck with the first ball, removing the set Ajinkya Rahane for 65, caught at deep midwicket. Three balls later, with the pressure mounting on Royals for boundaries, Stuart Binny looked to slog a quicker one from Harbhajan and lost his leg stump.
After conceding a boundary the following ball to Kevon Cooper, Harbhajan hit back off the final ball, beating Cooper who looked to play across the line but failed to spot the straighter one. Cooper didn't to drag his back foot behind the line and Dinesh Karthik completed a sharp stumping. Three wickets went down for just four runs in the space of six balls and the match had turned firmly in Mumbai's favour.
"I'm happy with the way I finished, although I didn't practice at all," Harbhajan said at the post-match presentation. "I was travelling to the US but I didn't practice much before this but I'm really happy with the way I have finished this tournament. I think that over where I took three wickets was probably the best over I've bowled in the last three months."
Chasing 203, the Royals were in the hunt via a second-wicket stand of 109 between Sanju Samson and Rahane, who both scored 60s. Royals captain Rahul Dravid too felt that Harbhajan's spell had turned the match.
"We saw some really great batting and we saw some good skills with the ball as well, from the spinners and it was a close game right till the end," Dravid said. "I thought the couple of overs when Harbhajan Singh got four wickets for eight or nine runs probably turned the game on its head."
Incidentally, Harbhajan had starred in Mumbai's previous title win in 2011 as well, his 3 for 20 winning him the Man-of-the-Match award against Royal Challengers Bangalore in Chennai.
"This is probably the second time and I am getting the Man of the Match in the final," he said. "Hopefully few more. I'm looking forward to the Duleep Trophy and the long season up ahead for India."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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