JOHANNESBURG: Mumbai Indians became the second IPL team to lose on Sunday. Following Chennai Super Kings’ defeat to Sydney Sixers, the upstarts at the Highveld Lions tamed Harbhajan Singh’s Mumbai line-up full of international stars in an eight-wicket win.
Neil McKenzie produced the classic backs-to-the-wall fifty after the Lions had lost their openers cheaply chasing 158. The veteran batsman showed he still has it as he began slowly and picked up pace as the required rate shot up to over 10 runs an over in the final quarter of the chase. The cold and damp conditions at the Wanderers worked against the Mumbai bowlers who struggled to grip the wet ball.
McKenzie took calculated risks, favouring in particular the leg-side boundary and he resurrected the innings in the company of the talented 19-year-old, the delightfully named Quinton de Kock. The duo added 121 runs unbeaten to take the Lions to victory.
The willow de Kock held made a sweet sound every time he hit the ball with intent. He slog-swept Pragyan Ojha twice for six, and then went to work against the seam bowling of Kieron Pollard and Dhawal Kulkarni. The flair with which the youngster made his runs suggested he may break into the national squad.
The thing to look forward to at the end of the game was if McKenzie and de Kock would be able to hold their own against Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson in the final couple of overs. But in an anti-climactic finish, McKenzie settled matters by taking 17 and 16 in back-to-back overs off Kulkarni and Harbhajan. McKenzie scored six fours in seven deliveries in this period.
MUMBAI STRUGGLE TO 157
Aaron Phangiso bowls left-arm orthodox spin and bats right-handed. The 28-year-old all-rounder from Gauteng would remember Sunday as the day he almost had Sachin Tendulkar stumped and then had him bowled in the same over.
After a slow start of 3 in 10 balls, Tendulkar was beginning to free up. He steered Sohail Tanvir for four through point, and followed that up with a thump down the ground off Phangiso. The spinner continued to flight the ball to the Indian master and managed to beat him on the cut shot. Unfortunately for him, Thami Tsolekile fluffed the stumping. Two balls later, Tendulkar set himself up for a slog but was bowled leg stump.
Harbhajan Singh sent up Mitchell Johnson ahead of Kieron Pollard and Ambati Rayudu, a move that didn’t quite work as Mumbai’s run-rate continued to be underwhelming. Dirk Nannes and Phangiso bowled out their eight overs for just 32 runs. Tanvir backed them up well with 2-31 in his four overs, dismissing Johnson and Pollard, the latter with a fine yorker.
The quick start that had been provided by Dwayne Smith (29 off 16b) turned out to be an aberration as Mumbai continued to struggle to lift their run rate. The innings was dotted with a large number of edges flying behind the wicket for fours, without which their score of 157 would have looked even more underwhelming.