Mumbai are hosting the climax of the inaugural IPL tournament but they’ve been shut out of their own party. Their beginning, hampered by Sachin Tendulkar’s forced absence, was compounded by Harbhajan Singh’s ouster after ‘Slapgate’ and only the return of the Little Master raised hopes of a final-four showing. And in the end, an unbeaten sixth-wicket stand between Ravinder Jadeja and Niraj Patel took Jaipur to a last-ball win.
With Mumbai’s hopes hanging on the last two matches, the one team they would have desperately wanted to avoid was Shane Warne’s Jaipur. Unbeaten in the fortress of the Sawai Man Singh stadium all tournament, Jaipur cut down Mumbai on Monday and confirmed that Delhi, on 15 points, entered the semifinals.
Mumbai now have to win their final match (on Wednesday) and hope that, in the interim, Chennai lose their last game against Hyderabad on Tuesday — and badly — so that net-run rate carries
them through. If Chennai beat Hyderabad, they’re through as the third placed team on 16 points irrespective of what Mumbai do in their final game.
All tournament, Jaipur have chosen to bowl first and they stuck to their guns, with Sohail Tanvir scything through Mumbai, taking 4 for 14. On a pitch that was not the best to bat on, with the ball not coming onto the bat, only Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar got past 30, with the rest falling away. In a crunch game, this was never likely to be enough.
Virender Sehwag and his merry men will celebrate, but not for long, for they know the team that helped them into the semis is the one most likely to stop them in their tracks.