The Mumbai Indians have a powerful batting order, some handy pacemen, but it counts for nought unless Sachin Tendulkar pulls his weight.
This has been the case in the visitors’ last two away matches and it could have been the same on Sunday. But the Mumbai skipper’s valiant knock of 89 not out bailed his team out of a batting collapse, gave a decent score to defend, and, finally got them that elusive victory.
Mumbai Indians beat the Rajasthan Royals by 37 runs and with it confirmed a semifinal berth.
Given that these are final stages of the league matches, every tie is a pressure game and Tendulkar proved smarter in a contest that didn’t favour him initially.
No one could breach Shane Warne’s fortress in the first IPL, but the Master Blaster is used to doing the unthinkable. Combative, industrious and fertile, Tendulkar showed why he is a cricketer of the highest calibre whose record and speed of scoring speak for themselves.
Being pegged back after Shane Watson made early inroads in the Mumbai top order, Tendulkar played a waiting game after Sanath Jayasuriya and Ambati Rayudu were sent back in the second over and Saurabh Tiwary’s wicket in the fourth proved to be a big blow.
It takes guts and imagination to recover after losing three quick wickets and Tendulkar showed both qualities in plenty. He carved a partnership with JP Duminy to get hold of a match that was fast slipping away. They pushed for the singles, punished the loose deliveries and avoided anything silly to negate wicket-taking opportunities.
Tendulkar deployed the sweep shot against Warne, often stepped out for the big hits and never showed any sign of vulnerability.
Mumbai reached 100 in the 14th over, Tendulkar clinched his 50 in the 16th and the visitors finished with 174 at the end of 20 overs.
Mumbai scored 68 runs in the last five overs and carried that momentum with the ball to beat the Royals convincingly.