Mumbai Indians 174-3 (Sharma 79no) beat
Kings XI Punjab 170 (Miller 56) by 4 runs
Indian Premier League 2013, Mumbai
Report by John Pennington
Rohit Sharma was at his fluent best as Mumbai Indians continued their Indian Premier League 2013 revival by recording a four-run win over Kings XI Punjab.
After Kings XI were bowled out for 170 in pursuit of 175 to win, it meant they followed up a brace of wins with a brace of defeats, a trend they will seek to reverse as soon as possible.
Mumbai's success was built first on an innings of 79 not out in 39 balls from captain Rohit Sharma - three wins from three for him since assuming the role - and then a three-wicket haul from Harbhajan Singh (3-14), who led an experienced bowling attack to victory despite David Miller thumping 56 in 34 balls.
Miller hit his first ball for four and went on to hit five sixes as he took his side from 55 for three - when Shaun Marsh was brilliantly caught, one-handed, leaping backwards, by Kieron Pollard on the boundary - to 149 for nine.
That should have been the cue for Mumbai to wrap things up swiftly but they were almost embarrassed as Praveen Kumar smacked a four and two sixes in making 24 in 15 balls, falling when one more boundary would have levelled the scores, Dhawal Kulkarni (2-44) having him caught by Sachin Tendulkar.
Tendulkar had earlier scored just nine, leaving the bulk of the run-scoring to Dwayne Smith (33) in the first instance, then Dinesh Karthik, who made 25 in 19 but it was not until Sharma came to the crease in the eighth over that the innings really started to gain traction.
A mighty innings that included six fours and six sixes drove Mumbai to a score they would eventually be able to defend and he played with the freedom of a man who had perhaps been relieved of captaincy duties, rather than drafted in to replace no less a player than Ricky Ponting.
He was well supported by Pollard, who made 20 in 21 balls. In this innings at least, even his spectacular best was put to one side to let Sharma have the majority of the strike. It proved to be a wise move indeed.
Kumar, Piyush Chawla and Manpreet Gony took a wicket apiece, the latter also bowling a no ball; symptomatic of a poor display in the field by Kings XI. How their profligacy would cost them. Pollard's outstanding grab to dismiss Marsh, managing to regain his balance and stay in the field of play after arching backwards to pluck the ball out of the sky, showed the visitors exactly how it should be done.
Catches win matches, but then so too do captain's innings and smart bowling, particularly when they are combined in the same game. Mumbai's night then, and one where mastering the basics of the game served them extremely well.
© Cricket World 2013
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