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The Bulletin by Sidharth Monga
April 20, 2011
Advantage Honours even
Facing some stifling bowling on a bouncy track, Pune Warriors put in an ordinary effort with the bat to concede Mumbai Indians two fairly easy points. Despite some repair work from Robin Uthappa, Pune managed only 118, which was 64 fewer than what was successfully chased in the last game at the Wankhede Stadium. As expected, Mumbai 's chase was comfortable, though there were some nerves at the end when they needed five to win off the last over.
It was the left-arm spin of Ali Murtaza, who opened the bowling, that frustrated the Pune openers, after which Abu Nechim and Munaf Patel capitalised with two wickets each in their first overs. On a true surface offering appreciable bounce, Mumbai's plan to open with Murtaza worked instantly. He went for just nine runs in his first two overs, and also extracted a couple of risky shots from Jesse Ryder. Nechim came on in the fourth over, and it was obvious Ryder would go after him. Ryder tried that off the second ball, but found mid-off. At 16 for 0 after 3.2 overs on a pitch full of runs, Pune ought to have been frustrated.
Nechim's slightly round-arm action gives him some skid off the surface. And that's what consumed Ryder as he looked to pull one. It hurried Ryder up, and the top edge settled with Sachin Tendulkar at midwicket. Two balls later, Mithun Manhas drove away from his body, giving Nechim his second. Tim Paine, replacing the injured Graeme Smith for this game, looked to manufacture a pull. That he was bowled was suggestion enough that he had picked the wrong length to pull. Yuvraj Singh was leaden-footed, like Manhas, and the slight nip away gave Munaf his second to reduce Pune to 17 for 4.
In that same over, had Andrew Symonds not missed with an underarm flick from about 10 feet to dismiss a lazy Uthappa, the damage would have been irreparable. As it turned out, Uthappa repaired some of the damage, and was assisted in parts by some loose stuff from Mumbai. Three free hits were conceded by Kieron Pollard and James Franklin, who were a bit generous when not bowling no-balls, but Murtaza and Lasith Malinga returned to remove Uthappa's partners regularly.
Then in the 15th over, with the score at 98, Pollard made up for his 13-run over with a diving catch at long-on to remove Uthappa and suck whatever life remained in the Pune innings. With little asking-rate pressure to bother them, Sachin Tendulkar and Ambati Rayudu calmly steered Mumbai closer to the win, which was eventually attained with Andrew Symonds and Rohit Sharma in the middle.
Tendulkar and Rayudu added 74 for the second wicket without having to work hard. The game went as far as it did because Pune seemed satisfied with spread fields and thus did not lose too much on the net run-rate front. It was a slightly bizarre pact of non-aggression, with both teams happy to go through the motions, contriving to take the game to a stage where Mumbai needed two off two. At that point, Murali Kartik, the bowler, failed to collect a throw that would have run Symonds out. With the scores level, Rohit lofted Kartik over extra cover to seal the win.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Sidharth Monga
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Both teams face contrasting opponents in their next Test series. While West Indies will be tested against stronger teams, Bangladesh have it easier but without much to gain