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The dying light still dazzles

Virender Sehwag was aggressive right from the off BCCI

Sehwag delights

The light is dying. But it is still capable of sometimes flickering with fury. And when it does, there are few better sights in the game. Virender Sehwag did not make too many, he lasted 19 deliveries to blitz 36, but the impact Sehwag has on opposition and spectators has never been, and will never be, told by mere numbers. Even during this short stay, Sehwag showed he could still take on the field, and win.

In left-armer Pawan Suyal's opening over, Rohit Sharma moved short midwicket to extra cover. Sehwag blasted the next ball right over the new position. Rohit posted two backward points for Vinay Kumar. Sehwag cut violently past those fielders and easily beat third man too.

Sehwag's old India teammate Harbhajan Singh came on in the seventh over. Sehwag has always thought spinners exist to be instantly banished out of the park. Second ball from Harbhajan, he charged out, and long-on took the mishit. The light is dying, but he still flickers and he still entertains.

Harbhajan the offspinner hits back

Harbhajan Singh was largely responsible for stalling Kings XI Punjab in the middle stage of their innings. They were 60 for 0 in the seventh over when he caused Sehwag's downfall and in his third over, he also removed the well-set M Vijay. Spinners usually transform into darters in this ruthless format, and that is also something Harbhajan has been criticised for in the past. But there were plenty of variations on display from the offspinner.

Of course, he did bowl the flat and quick ones, but he also flighted the ball often in between. And those ones dipped quickly, making it difficult for the batsmen to time their shots.

Harbhajan also used the straighter one to good effect, and one such delivery claimed Vijay. The opener had swatted a sweep off the left-arm spinner J Suchith for four. He tried to repeat it against Harbhajan but found that the ball held up a bit more and also bounced extra, resulting in a catch to deep backward square leg.

Harbhajan the batsman hits back

Some left when Ambati Rayudu got out. The ground started to empty after Kieron Pollard got out. Tail in the middle, 118 needed from 36. You could not blame the crowd, after the torture of watching the home batsmen sleepwalk through the chase. Those who remained were rewarded with some of the most incredible hitting you can see from a No. 8.

Harbhajan can time the ball better than many batsmen when he is in the mood. And he was in some mood. Legs wide apart. Open-chested. Standing deep in the crease. And belting sixes with ridiculous ease. Wankhede shouted itself hoarse for each boundary, and there was no time to draw breath before Harbhajan would make them go wild again.

Harbhajan faced 23 balls before he was eventually dismissed. Eleven of those went for four or six. That is almost every second ball. Even the ball he fell to, he had timed so well it zoomed to deep point. He may be out of national reckoning, but that spark for a scrap remains within.

Sandeep swings it around Mumbai

Two days ago in nearby Pune, Sandeep Sharma had toyed with Mumbai and India batsman Ajinkya Rahane in his opening over. Sandeep's combination of a tight line and controlled movement had left Rahane clueless, and the opener had holed out in the next over for a duck. This time, Sandeep contributed to the exit of another Mumbai and India batsman: Rohit Sharma. And for good measure, it was him and not the bowler at the other end who got the wicket.

Sandeep swung his first ball into Rohit, who inside-edged his drive to mid-on. The second ball jagged in even more, Rohit could not put bat on it and was struck in front.

Sandeep did not allow the Mumbai Indians batsmen any release throughout his spell. Rayudu survived a long, confident shout for leg-before off an inswinger. The next ball moved away. Caught in an awkward position, Rayudu poked at it, and managed not to nick it. Even last season, George Bailey was highly impressed by his young bowler, and after his spell ended, the captain ran up, put an arm around Sandeep's shoulders and had a few words with him.

Johnson v Pollard, take two

Kieron Pollard is not known for his batting prowess against high-quality pace but last season, he took 19 off the 19th over bowled by Mitchell Johnson to win a tight chase for Mumbai Indians on the same ground against the same opponents. That included an inside-edged four but also a straight six and a pulled four.

Tonight was different. Johnson had disturbed fellow Australian Aaron Finch's stumps with his second ball and was steaming in now. The first two balls, Pollard leaned forward and pushed to mid-off and extra cover. Johnson pulled the length back slightly and made the next two climb just outside off. Pollard lunged forward and left them. The Mumbai crowd watched stunned. They are not used to see Pollard leaving successive deliveries. Some even clapped in derision.

As if to let everyone know clearly just who was in charge tonight, Johnson banged the next one short and made it climb at the batsman's head. Pollard hopped, jerked his head away, and took a pounding on the glove.