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The Bulletin by Siddarth Ravindran
April 29, 2008
Inspired by Sanath Jayasuriya's 3 for 14, the best figures of the tournament, the Mumbai Indians put their off-field troubles aside and pulled off their first win. On a slow Eden Gardens pitch, though not the minefield of the previous game, Mumbai had a nervy start and were 25 for 3 before Dwayne Bravo and Robin Uthappa put on a century stand to see them home.
After Kolkata Knight Riders chose to bat, Mumbai's stand-in captain Shaun Pollock stunned the huge crowd, removing local hero Sourav Ganguly and the dangerous Brendon McCullum in the first over. Ganguly chased at a wide delivery and only managed a thick edge that was smartly held by Jayasuriya at wide slip. McCullum was trapped lbw for 1 two balls later, leaving Kolkata at 6 for 2.
The early momentum was provided by Twenty20 debutant Debabrata Das. Pollock was hit over midwicket for a big six and three leg-side fours followed in the next couple of overs. Das favoured the cut and got his innings going with two of them off Ashish Nehra in the second over, but another one off Dwayne Bravo flew straight to Robin Uthappa at point.
Bravo kept it just short of a length and outside off, giving away only four runs in two overs. Ponting and David Hussey consolidated for a couple of overs with singles and the odd boundary. Ponting was unable to get his timing right or middle the ball, and Hussey tried to up the tempo slamming Pollock for two fours.
Jayasuriya, tossing it up instead of firing it in as he usually does, broke the partnership by luring Hussey into swiping one to mid-on in the 11th over for 17. His next over, a maiden, saw two wickets fall as well. A run-out put Ponting out of his misery and two balls later Mohammad Hafeez nicked one to the wicketkeeper Pinal Shah as Kolkata slid to 77 for 6.
Laxmi Ratan Shukla, who revived Kolkata batting with a quick 42 against the Chennai Super Kings, was called on to rescue his team yet again. He smashed two fours and a six each off Bravo and Dilhara Fernando as 44 runs were scored in the last four overs.
Despite the below-par score, Kolkata refused to surrender and their new-ball bowlers gave them an excellent start. Ajit Agarkar had Ajinkya Rahane chipping to midwicket in the third over and, at the other end, Jayasuriya was in a fascinating battle with Ishant Sharma. After several swings-and-misses and powerful hits to the boundary, Ishant sent Jayasuriya's off stump cartwheeling. Manish Pandey then fell for a duck to the impressive Ashok Dinda and, at 25 for 3, Mumbai were in danger of squandering their advantage.
Uthappa and Bravo, though, carried them to victory with a century stand for the fourth wicket as the spinners were unable to carry on the good work of the fast bowlers. Uthappa had a chancy start - Das grassed a sharp chance at point, and there were several close shouts for lbw - before he unfurled some horizontal-bat shots and his favourite paddle.
Bravo played a stylish knock in which two shots early on stood out - an audacious back-foot square-drive off Ishant and a cracking lofted on-drive off Hafeez. They were some lovely straight hits as well in his unbeaten 64 - the highest score by a Mumbai batsman in the tournament.
The win, and news that their icon Sachin Tendulkar is likely to be fit for the next game, is a relief for Mumbai, who lost their first four games and will miss the services of US$850,000 signing Harbhajan Singh for the rest of the tournament after his row with Sreesanth during the match against the Kings XI Punjab.
After a thumping start, Kolkata's magic looks to be wearing out. None of their batsmen, besides McCullum, have made a half-century and, to make matters worse, they will be missing much of their batting firepower after this game - McCullum and Ricky Ponting leave to fulfil international commitments while a groin injury has forced Chris Gayle out of the tournament.
Siddarth Ravindran is an editorial assistant at CricinfoFeeds: Siddarth Ravindran
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Plays of the Day from second ODI between South Africa and Pakistan, in Port Elizabeth