Mumbai get the points in contrived finish
Mumbai XI 218 for 8 (Watson 3-42) beat Australians 292
(Gilchrist 61, Ponting 55, Kulkarni 5-43) by seven runs (target revised to 300)
Inspired by Nilesh Kulkarni's five-wicket haul, Mumbai gained a seven-run win in a contrived match against the Australians in their final Champions Trophy warm-up game at the MIG Ground. Although Mumbai batted first and ended up scoring only 218, both teams agreed to bend the rules. Australia's target was revised to 300 to allow their batsmen to gain more practice and make the game more competitive for the large number of spectators who filled up the temporary stands erected outside the ground.
Kulkarni, the left-arm spinner who had troubled Australia in the past, returned to haunt them again in a productive display. Australia got off to a typically aggressive start as Adam Gilchrist, who pulled a slew of short-of-a-length deliveries, and Shane Watson added 96 at the required rate, punishing anything off line from Zaheer Khan. Gilchrist was the first of Kulkarni's victims, beaten in flight after slamming a huge six over long-on to the previous ball. After Watson, who again opened ahead of Simon Katich, quickly departed to the same bowler, Australia appeared on track with Ricky Ponting and Damien Martyn adding 106 and registering half-centuries.
However, with spinners bowling from both ends, Mumbai managed to put the brakes on the scoring, and Ponting perished soon after reaching his fifty, trying to launch Kulkarni over the stands. Andrew Symonds' cameo of 35 off 24 balls ended when he was trapped in front to the offspinner Aniket Redkar. Redkar sent back Michael Clarke in the same over and Zaheer finally had some success, yorking Michael Hussey for 2. The asking rate increased as the batsmen fell in quick succession and Australia finished with 292 for 9.
Mumbai also tinkered with the rules to give the Australians a chance at bowling their full 50 overs as Rohit Sharma was called back to the crease in the latter stages of the innings. He was dismissed in the 22nd over after scoring 8. Mumbai lost their way in the middle overs following an impressive start. Sharma's second innings came after the eighth wicket fell and gave the crowd plenty to cheer as he slammed three fours in one over off Nathan Bracken, followed by a huge six. Sharma, who hit 41 off 19 balls, and Abhishek Nair took the score to 218 with a 59-run stand.
Kanishkaa Balachandran is editorial assistant of Cricinfo