Sachin Tendulkar brought his ‘A’ game to the park in the T20 league. He set the tempo with a 29-ball 44 before Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik took over and repeated their explosive performances of the last home game against Kings XI.
A simple comparison provided the contrast in displays — Mumbai scored 183 for three wickets.
Pune’s top three were out within 15 balls in their innings, and at 13 for three, the game was over as a contest.
Backing his batsmen’s effort, Mitchell Johnson produced a deadly opening burst. The left-arm pacer went through the gates of openers Aaron Finch and Robin Uthappa with searing, snaking deliveries while No 3, Ross Taylor, ran himself out. The visitors’ last hope was extinguished when Yuvraj Singh was caught at deep midwicket off Kieron Pollard at the score of 71.
With the form of the MI openers under scrutiny, Tendulkar announced his intention with four successive fours against Ashok Dinda as Mumbai raced to 48 in the six-over powerplay period. His opening partnership with Ricky Ponting (14) was worth 54 runs.
Mumbai’s batting is shining thanks mainly to Karthik and Sharma, one out of India favour and the other struggling to make it count in the national team. The two are making the most of the T20 platform. Karthik, who looks a transformed batsman this season, dominated his 55-run third-wicket partnership with Sharma with dazzling strokes during his 29-ball 41. Sharma switched into top gear in the death overs, accelerating to 62 off 32 balls, as Mumbai plundered 68 off the last five overs.
Pune never recovered, and drifted like a rudderless ship. The bowlers seemed to panic under the onslaught, the fielding was shoddy and Mathews lost the plot in using the arsenal at his disposal. Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Aaron Finch and Yuvraj Singh were among the bowlers who were tidy, but they got to bowl only two overs each.
Dinda conceded 17 and 11 runs in his first two, the 3rd and 15th of the innings. Inexplicably, Mathews still preferred him to bowl the 17th and the final over of the innings with disastrous consequences — the bowler ended up conceding 63 runs in four overs.
Pune had raised expectations of putting up a fight after their strong performance against Kings XI. But they were back to their old, poor self. Most disappointing was their lethargic effort in the field. There were chances to arrest Mumbai’s early momentum but Yuvraj didn’t react to a chance offered by Tendulkar and in the next over Rahul Sharma was slow to bend to stop a drive at midwicket.
In their two home matches, Ponting’s men have provided the fans more than their money’s worth. On Saturday, his team made the day for 10,000-odd underprivileged kids who were specially invited for the game.