It was as if Harbhajan Singh took it as a warning to him when Deccan Chargers dropped captain Kumar Sangakkara for poor form. By the same yardstick, the Mumbai Indians’ skipper was also under the scanner, having claimed just one wicket in eight games.
Till now shaky and lacking rhythm, it was a different Harbhajan who took the ground. He was clear in his decision-making and gave nothing away in his bowling.
On a wicket which offered more assistance to the pacers, he was equally effective to lead Mumbai to their fifth win in nine games.Harbhajan, who has been reluctant to bowl himself in some games, showed the right intent when he opened the bowling. Though he didn’t get the early breakthrough, he kept the Chargers left-hand combination quiet. His then struck twice in the middle overs to finish with impressive figures of 4-0-13-2.
The change in leadership didn’t have the desired effect on Chargers. They looked directionless even under Cameron White. The batsmen had no clue negotiating the Mumbai bowlers on a wicket with some juice. The host pacers, spearheaded by Lasith Malinga’s four wickets, focused on bowling short of length and the batsmen struggled to free their arms.
The moment Dale Steyn’s name appeared on the screen, everyone’s eyes lit up anticipating a battle royal against Sachin Tendulkar. Never mind the below-par score by Chargers, it was game on.
Steyn had bowled the best over of the IPL to Richard Levi in the first leg match, and he produced another stunner, bowling him the first ball. The connoisseurs though had to wait till the second over for the heavyweight fight as Rohit Sharma had no clue against the five balls he faced in the opening over.
Tendulkar versus Steyn face-off lasted only one ball. Steyn almost delivered the knock-out punch when he squared the Indian legend but the edge flew through the vacant gully for a single. The fact that Sharma managed to put bat to ball only on the 10th delivery he faced said a lot about the quality of Steyn’s opening burst.
Even though Steyn picked another wicket in his second spell, he lacked support from the other end and the MI batsmen could afford to play his four overs out before inching to victory.