Mumbai Indians find their rhythm

Harbhajan Singh celebrates the stumping of Kedar Jadhav BCCI

At the end of the sixth over of Mumbai Indians chase, a reserve player sprinted to the middle and handed over a Duckworth-Lewis sheet to Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu in the middle. This was the second instance of Rohit being handed over a D/L sheet in three overs - spread over an hour and two rain interruptions.

While Rohit had asked for the sheet that some of the international team coaches have misread in the past, this time around it was the Mumbai dugout that had sent the paper across to the middle. Precariously placed at 41 for 4 after the Powerplay overs, the Mumbai Indians captain had a brief chat with Rayudu and folded up the piece of paper without even looking at it. Rohit slipped the paper in his pocket, and had a fist pump with Rayudu.

One could make out Rohit would have told Rayudu something like "let's take it as a 20-over game". Their quest to match the complex Duckworth-Lewis equations had seen them lose two wickets in eight balls in the brief session between the two breaks. Opener Parthiv Patel had holed out to covers, which led to Harbhajan Singh being promoted to No.5 only to see him falling on the stroke of the second interval.

Once Rohit and Rayudu started playing percentage cricket and Kieron Pollard's calculated risks came off to perfection, a target of 153 turned out to be far from excessive. That too after losing four wickets in less than six overs.

As much as the triumvirate of Rohit, Rayudu and Pollard - all of whom continued to bat lower by at least one position - was responsible for getting the Mumbai juggernaut rolling, their fourth successive victory wouldn't have been possible without Harbhajan's exceptional four-over spell.

The veteran offspinner had got off to an excellent start to the IPL, picking up eight scalps in Mumbai's first four games. But he had been going through a rough patch of late, claiming just one wicket in the last four games. But Harbhajan turned the tide in his favour with an immaculate spell of spin bowling.

With Delhi Daredevils having raced to 43 for 1, thanks to Shreyas Iyer and JP Duminy's clean hitting, the signs were ominous for Mumbai. Less than two weeks earlier, Iyer and Duminy had taken the game away from Mumbai with a 154-run association at the Kotla.

In a bid to at least put the brakes on, if not break the partnership, Rohit threw the ball to Harbhajan for the last over with fielding restrictions. And Harbhajan struck, fooling promising Iyer in flight off the first ball he bowled. The next five balls saw Duminy managing to get to the other end courtesy of a leg-bye. Once he had started with a maiden, Harbhjajan continued to bowl with a loop, something that has been missing from his armoury over the last few years.

When Yuvraj Singh replaced Duminy before Harbhajan's second over, he maintained his trajectory at slower speeds. Yuvraj also found it going tough against him, managing just five runs off the 12 balls he faced by his Punjab team-mate.

With Jadhav having grown in confidence, connecting a trademark slog off J Suchith at the other end, Harbhajan then trapped him with a quicker one. Jadhav isn't afraid to charge down the track off spinners and knowing that Daredevils had to get a move on, he went after Harbhajan in his last over. Since the batsman had made his move a fraction of a second too early, Harbhajan was smart enough to slide the ball outside off to leave Jadhav stranded and for Patel to do the rest behind the wickets.

Harbhajan's four overs had cost just 11 runs. The fact that he didn't concede a single boundary, bowling 16 dot balls, in his spell meant Daredevils just couldn't get the momentum in the middle overs. Despite Yuvraj's antics at the death, Harbhajan's miserly spell had ensured that Mumbai Indians will have to chase a moderate, and not mammoth, target.

Rayudu and Co then ensured that Harbhajan's good work wasn't wasted to see Mumbai Indians break into the top four for the first time in IPL 2015.