Mumbai almost self-destruct in tense win
Mumbai Indians 174 for 3 (Rohit 79*, Smith 33) beat Kings XI Punjab 170 (Miller 56, Hussey 34, Harbhajan 3-14) by four runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
The glorious uncertainties of T20 cricket are also heavily reliant, sometimes, on mediocrity. Mumbai Indians were the relieved team at the end, having, only just, prevented Kings XI Punjab from pulling off a heist that, had it been achieved, would have left the hosts embarrassed.
Mumbai Indians had no business allowing the game to be decided off the last ball, after having dismissed a threatening David Miller which left Kings XI to chase 26 off the final two overs with just one wicket in hand. Kings XI still needed 17 in the last bowled by Dhawal Kulkarni. Six out of eight deliveries bowled in that over were full tosses, one of them was given a no-ball and another should have been - it was clearly above the waist - but wasn't, neither by Asad Rauf at square leg or AK Chaudhary at the bowling crease.
Praveen Kumar dispatched a juicy full toss on the pads for six off the penultimate ball to bring the equation down to five off the last delivery - also a full toss - but spooned a catch to Sachin Tendulkar. It completed a nerve-wracking win for the hosts, but left many wondering what might have been had the umpires, or even Kulkarni, who was fortunate not to have bowled to a more accomplished batsman, got their act right. The end had a touch of the bizarre, and was anti-climactic, as the umpires tried to double-check if the final delivery was a no-ball as Mumbai celebrated; it turned out to be comfortably below the waist with Kulkarni's foot well behind the line.
The most relieved of all of Mumbai's players, presumably, will be their captain Rohit Sharma. At the stroke of the midnight hour, he turned 26, and it would have been a birthday he wished he would have forgotten had Kings XI won. All the more because he had played a critical role in getting Mumbai to 174 after his team's scratchy start, with just 48 coming off the first nine overs. It is not often that Kieron Pollard plays second fiddle during the death overs of a T20 innings, but rotating the strike was all he needed to do as Rohit took over the role of aggressor.
So cleanly did Rohit - who scored his fourth half-century this season - strike the ball, he cleared the boundary by a distance his unusually subdued partner today has acquired a reputation to match, albeit with much lesser effort. During their unbeaten stand of 88, of which 72 were scored in the last five overs, Pollard scored at less than a run a ball and hit just one six and a four. At the other end, Rohit looked a figure of assuredness, though against some insipid Kings XI bowling that included a spate of extras, full tosses and deliveries bowled down leg. In the final over of the innings, which went for 27, David Hussey, captaining in place of a dropped Adam Gilchrist, sinned by bowling length and was smashed by Rohit for three sixes, one ending in the top tier behind midwicket, and two fours. Just as some fortune for Mumbai in the final over of the chase, this too proved decisive.
Kings XI appeared to be in the game even after losing two early wickets and then Shaun Marsh to a stunning one-handed catch from Pollard on the long-on boundary. Hussey and David Miller counterattacked, the former helping snatch 32 in the last two overs of the Powerplay. The introduction of spin, Harbhajan Singh's miserly spell that included three wickets, and Hussey's dismissal slowed down the innings considerably, but Miller continued to give Mumbai a scare with timely blows over the fence, two of them off Pollard followed by one each off Mitchell Johnson and Kulkarni. His innings of 56 ended when he struck Johnson straight to extra cover in the 18th over, but little did anyone know what was in store.
Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo