Mumbai Indians players Harbhajan Singh and Rohit Sharma celebrate the wicket of Rajat Bhatia during the T20 match against Kolkata Knight Riders at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. (Kunal Patil/HT)
Generally, the Twenty20 format is harsh on ageing warriors. This season has been particularly tough with stalwarts Adam Gilchrist, Sachin Tendulkar, Muttiah Muralitharan and Ricky Ponting all coming under the microscope. Until now only Rahul Dravid and Mike Hussey have kept proving that old can be gold.
However on Tuesday, the stocks of senior cricketers club hit a bull run. After the peerless Dravid played another scintillating knock for Rajasthan Royals, Tendulkar produced a vintage innings at the Wankhede Stadium.
This has been a low-key season for the Mumbai Indians maestro, but against Kolkata Knight Riders he turned the clock back by a few years. It was largely his innings of 48 (28 balls) and the in-form Dinesh Karthik's 34-run cameo that helped the hosts reach a fighting total of 170 for six. In the end, it proved more than enough. KKR's dismal record against Mumbai continued when they crashed to 105 all out, their 10th defeat in 12 matches.
Despite Tendulkar being in a belligerent mood, Mumbai's inability to cash in on the powerplay period continued. Dwayne Smith failed to force the pace from the other end and after the six overs the hosts had only managed 41.
When Smith was out for a 53-ball 47, Mumbai were 99 for three in 13.3 overs and there were doubts whether they had left it a little too late for the charge.
However, to skipper Rohit Sharma's luck, the last-over jinx that KKR seems to have against Mumbai struck again. Skipper Gautam Gambhir surprised everyone when he threw the ball to Ryan McLaren, despite his best bowlers of the day, L Balaji and Jacques Kallis, having an over each.
To the KKR supporters' horror, McLaren lost the plot and conceded 25 runs in the final over, including five wides. It was a repeat of the first-leg match at Eden when MI won in the last over with Harbhajan Singh and Ambati Rayudu getting the required 10 runs.