Mumbai Indians bowler Harbhajan Singh celebrates the wicket of Azhar Mahmood during the T20 match against Kings XI Punjab in Mumbai. PTI Photo by Shashank Parade
Under normal circumstances, a showdown between Mumbai Indians and Kings XI Punjab would have meant a clash of the Australian legends, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchirst.
But these are strange times, where the greats have retired from international cricket and no longer hold the same zest they did in their prime.
On Monday, both stalwarts were not playing. While Ponting dropped himself for last four matches, Gilchrist sat out after a poor run of form where he aggregated just 94 runs in eight innings with an average of 11.75.
Sachin plays on
While the Australians made way for youngsters, Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar is unperturbed even though he turned 40 few days back.
In the Indian T20 league, Tendulkar has showed glimpses of his best but has not been able to carry on.
At the Wankhede Stadium too, Tendulkar got off to a bright start -- caressing two boundaries off Azhar Mahmood through cover and point.
But he didn’t last long, his slow reflexes not able to bring the bat down in time to an incoming delivery from Praveen Kumar.
Kings XI coach, Darren Lehmann had hinted prior to the match that the pitch would do a bit and bowlers utilised it wisely, with Parvinder Awana providing the standout performance, giving away just 13 runs from his first three overs.
That was until Rohit Sharma decided to carry Mumbai innings on his shoulders. While the rest, including the big-hitting Keiron Pollard struggled, Sharma was a class act.
The Mumbai skipper built his innings steadily, keeping one end occupied till eventually letting loose in the final overs with some lusty blows, to take Mumbai Indians to a total of 174/3.
His blistering 39-ball 79 (6x4, 6x6) was a contrast to his teammates. While the rest failed to get going, Sharma stood like a rock at the other end and took off in the last five overs.
Last over hitting
His assault on Kings XI stand-in skipper in the last over provided the right impetus for Mumbai, as he smashed three sixes with 27 coming off it. In the end, the total was above par with enough for a strong Mumbai bowling to defend.
However, at one point that looked impossible. Some accurate swing bowling from the Kings XI meant the first seven overs for Mumbai yielded only 43.
Two of Mumbai’s in-form batsmen Dinesh Karthik and Dwayne Smith failed to get going.