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One run too many for Pune

india Updated: May 04, 2012 00:43 IST
Amol Karhadkar
Harbhajan Singh

Mumbai-Indians-celebrate-the-dismissal-of-Robin-Uthappa-during-IPL-5-match-against-Pune-Warriors-in-Pune-PTI-Photo-Shirish-Shete

Both Mumbai and Maharashtra, the home state associations of IPL franchises Mumbai Indians and Pune Warriors, have been renowned for their rich batting tradition.

However, that hasn't translated on the ground whenever the teams have taken each other on. Perhaps, due to the lack of local flavour in both teams, three of the four matches, including Thursday's match at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium have been low-scoring affairs.

But even though Thursday was a low-scoring game, just like the first game of the season between these two teams at the Wankhede Stadium, there was no lack of thrill for a packed house, just like last year's tie at the Wankhede where Mumbai surpassed a target of 119 off the last ball of the match.

Thanks to Ashish Nehra's stupendous second spell and impressive fielding by the Warriors, Pune restricted the Mumbai Indians to 120 for nine, nowhere close to the par score despite the slow and low nature of the wicket.

But when it came to chasing down a target that seemed would be overhauled easily, the Warriors, coming in with three successive losses that left them reeling at the eighth spot in the standings, never looked comfortable once Munaf Patel got rid of Robin Uthappa, who was finally sent in as an opener.

That was followed by a mini collapse with the spin duo of skipper Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha accounting for Michael Clarke, Jesse Ryder and Steve Smith, the Warriors' man in this year's campaign, to leave them stuttering at 47 for four at the halfway stage.

Futile effort
However, then came the crucial partnership between skipper Sourav Ganguly, who demoted himself to No 4 in the batting line-up, and Mithun Manhas, the most controversial selection for the Warriors over the last two seasons. While Ganguly appeared nowhere close to middling the ball, Manhas started to up the ante once he got his eye in. As a result, when the second strategic timeout was taken, the equation read 36 runs required off the last four overs.

With six wickets in hand, the target looked achievable, but Mumbai were banking on Lasith Malinga to strike decisive blows in his remaining two overs.

He did the needful by dismissing Ganguly and Wayne Parnell in each of his overs, it was left to Manhas to seal the deal for the Warriors by scoring 12 runs off the last over.