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DHARAMSALA: Adam Gilchrist was accorded a fitting send off from the Indian Premier League as his side thrashed heavyweights Mumbai Indians by 50 runs at the skipper’s "favourite place in the world to play cricket”, on Saturday.
With Mumbai needing 51 off the last over in their pursuit of 184, Gilchrist swapped his 'keeping gloves for the ball, and struck on his first delivery in IPL by claiming Harbhajan Singh. Gilly then celebrated Bhajii-style, a mock-dance with limbs flailing, not an ounce of synchrony in the movement.
It was, after all, a match devoid of any consequence. Out-of-contention Punjab were chasing pride, and Mumbai, already assured of a top-two standing, were looking for a shot of confidence ahead of their critical qualifier against Chennai Super Kings.
But drama, as would have befitted the farewell of a much-loved player, was disappointingly missing from the one-sided contest. Punjab’s 183/8 – gained on the back of authoritative fifties by Azhar Mahmood and Shaun Marsh, and some insipid Mumbai fielding – proved too much for even the visitors’ marquee batting order. They folded for 133 as Punjab's motley collection kept chipping away at the wickets.
It was, however, Piyush Chawla's teasing leg-spin and Praveen Kumar's movement that was tough to counter early on. Chawla got rid of Rohit and Dinesh Karthik in successive overs, while Praveen provided the early breakthrough by dismissing the million-dollar Glenn Maxwell.
An aggressive Aditya Tare was done in by Sandeep Sharma's swing, and although Kieron Pollard got away a few lusty blows towards the end, the outcome was obvious no sooner had the required rate trespassed the 15-run mark. Pollard was, incidentally, dismissed three times in a row off Sharma: first off a no-ball, then off the free-hit delivery, and then finally on the delivery that followed.
One last failure
Gilly failed with the bat after Mumbai sent the home team in, but his last outing as player for Kings XI was salvaged by Mahmood (80, 44b) and Marsh (63, 47b). After the legendary Aussie and Mandeep Singh were out cheaply, the pair was inseparable for almost 15 overs, a span within which they smashed 148 runs and took the game away from the tournament favourites. Mahmood was dropped at least twice and made the best of it by smashing 20 in a Lasith Malinga over.
He also creamed Maxwell's part-time off-spin for 18 in the 13th over. Both batsmen reached their fifties in quick time, after which Marsh was bowled by Harbhajan Singh. Mahmood faced a similar fate against Malinga, who returned to clean up the tail. The Lankan slinger became the first man to 100 IPL wickets when he cannoned one into Praveen Kumar’s stumps. His three scalps on Saturday, however, came at a pricey 13 runs apiece.