Mumbai, Apr 20: Mumbai Indians carved out a hard-fought seven-wicket victory over Pune Warriors in a low-scoring Indian Premier League clash that went down to the last ball, at the Wankhede Stadium here today.
Chasing a modest target after bowling out the opposition for 118 in 17.2 overs, Mumbai looked on course with Sachin Tendulkar (35 off 39 balls) and Ambati Rayudu (37 off 40) at the crease, but after their dismissals, the home team made heavy weather of the task before finally ending up with 124 for three in 20 overs.
Mumbai's Munaf Patel was declared Man of the Match for returning impressive figures of three for right.
Requiring five off the last over, and then one off the last ball, Rohit Sharma (20 not out off 18 balls)) hoisted left-arm spinner Murali Kartik over long-off for a six to complete the victory.
Sharma and Andrew Symonds (16 off 15 balls) put on an unfinished partnership of 35 runs to see Mumbai home for their third win in four outings.
After the early loss James Franklin, Tendulkar and Rayudu added 74 runs in 12 overs for the second wicket to put the home team in sight of a comprehensive victory.
A flick boundary by Tendulkar off Shrikant Wagh early into his innings was an indication of the kind of form the batsman was in.
Rayudu blossomed in the company of his captain and drove Wayne Parnell through cover and then lofted the left-arm pacer over mid-wicket.
After six overs the score was 32 for one and the 50 came up in only 45 balls.
The duo's dismissals in quick succession affected the run rate for a while, but Sharma and Symonds stepped up the tempo in the nick of time.
Tendulkar was dismissed for the first time in four games, having come into this match following a brilliant 100 not out against Kochi on April 17, before Rayudu also departed six runs later.
Twenty runs were needed off the last 18 balls, before Symonds struck two fours in the first two balls off Wayne Parnell to bring down the required run-rate. Thereafter Symonds and Sharma hung on to complete the task.
Earlier, Robin Uthappa smashed a quick-fire 45 but the top-order put up a pathetic display as Pune were shot out in less than 20 overs.
Uthappa cracked a six and six fours in his 27-ball knock to help Pune rally from a sorry-looking 17 for four and get past the 100-run mark.
The initial damage was done by Assam seamer Abu Nechim, who replaced an injured Harbhajan Singh in the playing XI.
He took two wickets in three balls in the fourth over before Patel also grabbed a couple in three balls to leave Pune on the ropes.
Uthappa's cameo ended, courtesy an outstanding catch in the deep by West Indian Kieron Pollard.
Although there weren't any big partnerships but Uthappa was involved two such efforts which yielded 35 each. First one was for the fifth wicket with Mohnish Mishra (12) and the next for the sixth wicket with Murali Kartik (11).
Patel was easily the pick of the bowlers for Mumbai. Abu Nechim grabbed two for 13 while Ali Murtaza made amends for his costly 19th over during the defeat to Kochi Tuskers Kerala last week by opening the bowling and returning with figures of two for 18.
Warriors made a reasonable start after opting to bat when openers Jesse Ryder and Tim Paine put on 16 with the former being the aggressor. But things went horribly wrong in the fourth and fifth overs when they lost four wickets in the space of just 7 balls, including that of in-form opener Ryder for 12.
Former India under-19 pacer Abu Nechim, bowling the third over, turned out to be the unlikely hero. Ryder mistimed a pull-shot as Nechim fed him with short stuff for Tendulkar to take a smart overhead catch running backwards.
If that wasn't enough, Mithun Manhas (0) followed suit when he edged one to Rayudu.
From 17 for two, it suddenly became 17 for four with Tim Paine (2) and skipper Yuvraj Singh (0) were sent back by Munaf. While Paine got one that climbed pretty fast clipping the off-stump as he tried to pull, Yuvraj had minimal footwork as he nicked it to give Rayudu his second catch.
Uthappa hit a four and six off Pollard to provide some momentum to the team's total. But Mishra, who hit two boundaries, holed out in the deep with the Warriors tottering at 52 for five.
Kartik then added 37 runs with Uthappa to take the total to 87 before Kartik chipped a fuller delivery from Malinga to Symonds at mid-on. Uthappa, who looked good enough and deserved a half century, was finally gone when he tried to hit Murtaza but Pollard's acrobatic effort cut short his innings.
At 98 for seven, it was difficult for the Warriors to put up a respectable T20 score. Leggie Rahul Sharma (13 off 9 balls) hit a six and four off Franklin to take the score past 100 but Munaf got his third wicket as he was caught by Murtaza at deep point.
The worst part about Pune's batting was that they failed to utilise 16 deliveries in the end, which could have meant another 25 runs if they had wickets in hand. PTI