Mumbai Indians held their nerves during the death overs as they beat defending champions Kolkata Knight Riders by five wickets in a thrilling contest in the Indian Premier League here on Wednesday.
It couldn’t have been a better 40th birthday gift for Sachin Tendulkar as MI chased down a 160-run target with a ball to spare as they got back to winning ways after back-to-back defeats against Rajasthan Royals and Delhi Daredevils.
Dwayne Smith smashed a 45-ball-62 to create a launchpad for this significant victory for Mumbai as Rohit Sharma (34) and Kieron Pollard (33) also chipped in with vital contributions towards the end.
For KKR this was their fifth defeat and their campaign is slowly turning from bad to worse as they stay on four points from seven games compared to MI’s eight points.
KKR’s Rajat Bhatia came in to bowl the final over with 10 runs required and immediately removed the dangerous Pollard.
But Harbhajan Singh compensated for his poor show with the ball as he blasted the Delhi veteran over deep mid-wicket which proved to be a decisive blow in the end.
With two to get off two balls, Rayudu hit one over extra cover to close the match.
Tendulkar’s (2) hopes of getting big score on his birthday were dashed by Sunil Narine (3/17) who bowled a perfect off-break which breached through the senior pro’s defence to knock the middle stump back.
Dinesh Kaarthick (7) got a raw deal as the delivery from Sachitra Senanayeke (1/50) looked like going past leg-stump but the glovesman was adjudged leg-before. While Narine was consistent as usual, Senanayeke had a bad day in office as he bowled too many loose deliveries.
Smith, however, went ahead unflustered by the situation as he singled out left-arm spinner Iqbal Abdulla for special treatment.