Deccan prevail in low-scoring upset
For 19 overs Deccan Chargers, out of the competition already, seemed to be going through the motions. In the 20th, they came to life through Amit Mishra's four successive boundaries off his India team-mate Munaf Patel. Mishra and his India spin rival Pragyan Ojha then bowled eight overs for 34 runs on a turning pitch, sucking the life out of Mumbai's chase. A rollercoaster final over by IPL debutant Anand Rajan made for good drama too.
Mumbai, pretty much like Deccan, woke up in the last two overs of their innings, with 42 required. Kieron Pollard and Harbhajan Singh took 16 off the 19th, and then Pollard got stuck into Rajan, who had earlier removed Sachin Tendulkar and TL Suman in the same over. Rajan was chosen to bowl that last over ahead of the overseas pro and expensively acquired Daniel Christian. Pollard hit the first length ball for a huge six. Rajan's attempt at a yorker resulted in a leg-side wide. Pollard got a thick edge on the next, and dived a mile to complete the second run. Both teams' scores after 19.2 overs were identical: 119 for 6.
Pollard started doing what Mishra had, flicking a leg-side length ball for four. The debutant had to be under pressure, although an expressionless face didn't give much away. Kumar Sangakkara and Ishant Sharma, fielding at a very straight mid-on, called conferences every ball. Rajan's previous over had featured the wicket of the best batsman in the world. He was throwing it away now. Then came a smart slower ball, a split-finger one, outside off. This edge from Pollard carried to third man. Game over. Rajan didn't go delirious celebrating in true IPL fashion. He just smiled.
For a little less than the first half of the match, Deccan hadn't had much to smile about. From the moment Michael Lumb lost his leg stump to Lasith Malinga in the first over, Deccan lived a stifled life. Not one of the main batsmen, except for Shikhar Dhawan, struck at a run a ball.
Malinga and Harbhajan Singh were difficult to get away, and Dhawal Kulkarni sneaked in three wicket-taking deliveries. It seemed Mumbai had resumed normal service after their 87 all out in their previous game. Then Munaf began the last over, at 112 for 6. Dhawan hoisted the first ball for six. Munaf came back well with a yorker that brought Mishra on strike.
This is where the game started turning. Munaf bowled a bouncer, and the top edge flew over the keeper's head. Munaf had things to say to Mishra then, which didn't quite go down well with the Deccan batsmen. Dhawan too joined in the exchange. An attempted yorker now ended up as a full toss, and ended up at the midwicket fence. This time Mishra was looking for Munaf. The next was half edged, half guided past the keeper. Mishra and Munaf collided on the pitch even as the ball reached the third man boundary. Another yorker went wrong, and another full toss was clipped for four.
Deccan went into the defence with confidence. JP Duminy, who was beautifully done in by a loopy offbreak earlier in the match, bowled a beauty himself, opening the innings. That offbreak, pitching on leg, hitting off, removed Aiden Blizzard, and sent Mumbai into caution mode. Now with Mishra and Ojha turning the ball square, Deccan's 135 started to look a good total.
Ishant, too, chipped in with the wickets of Ambati Rayudu and Rohit Sharma. With wickets falling around him, Sachin Tendulkar seemed to be stuck between caution and aggression. He too tried to go after the debutant Rajan in the 16th over, with 60 still required. He punched him for four first ball, but then saw Suman perish to a slower one. To the last ball of the over, he moved across to try and pull, and was caught dead in front. Ojha and Mishra came back to give just 11 off the next two overs.
Pollard's hitting in the final two, which brought Mumbai teasingly close to a win, went on to emphasise that he should be batting higher for Mumbai, who are now out of the crucial top two on the points table.
Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo