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Harbhajan inspires Mumbai Champions League triumph

The Report by Andrew Fidel Fernando
October 7, 2013
Mumbai Indians 202 for 6 ( Smith 44, Maxwell 37, Tambe 2-19) beat Rajasthan Royals 169 (Rahane 65, Samson 60, Harbhajan 4-32) by 33 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details

Harbhajan Singh turned the match around in the space of an over to pick up the Man of the Match award © BCCI
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A furious finish from Mumbai Indians' middle order propelled them to a monumental total before a chase-breaking over from Harbhajan Singh snuffed out the last of Rajasthan Royals' spirit, driving Mumbai to their second major title of the year, as they won the Champions League final by 33 runs.

The Royals bowlers had been disciplined in their first 12 overs, which only cost them less than seven an over, but a Rohit Sharma onslaught unseamed their resolve and the remaining batsmen took maximum toll on a waning attack. Glenn Maxwell provided the most frenzied death-over innings, mauling 37 from 14, but Sharma, Dinesh Karthik and even Harbhajan struck at over 200 to help plunder 120 runs from the last eight overs of the innings.

Eighteen-year old Sanju Samson was imperious in Royals' response, and he led Ajinkya Rahane in a 109-run second-wicket stand that provided a fine base for the chase. But even as Rahane completed his fourth fifty on the trot, the Royals' scoring slowed, and Harbhajan eventually sunk the opposition in a 17th over that claimed three wickets and cost only four.

Before that over Royals had needed 48 runs from four overs, and with seven wickets still remaining, a successful chase was conceivable, particularly as Rahane remained in the middle. But it was Rahane who made the first mistake, advancing to swat a full toss straight to deep midwicket, when it seemed he could quite easily have muscled it over the Feroz Shah Kotla's short boundary. Two balls later Stuart Binny was undone by some extra bounce and had his leg stump removed, before Kevon Cooper missed the last ball and overbalanced, and a sharp Karthik did not miss his chance.

The most disheartening sight of the match followed in the next over when, having demoted himself to No. 8, Rahul Dravid's final act on a professional cricket field was having his leg stump flattened by a prosaic yorker from Nathan Coulter-Nile. Earlier, Sachin Tendulkar had fared little better, when he missed a Shane Watson inducker by a distance to have his own off stump uprooted.

Two days shy of his 42nd birthday, Pravin Tambe delivered another remarkable spell, and he might wonder how his team-mates could have indulged the opposition so meekly when he had conceded only 19 from his four overs, while taking the two wickets that placed him atop the tournament wicket-takers' list.

Halfway through Mumbai's innings, Royals might have thought they would have to bowl poorly to concede 170. Smith had been effective at the top of the innings again, but by his standards, his 44 had come at a relatively humdrum pace - off 39 balls.

It was Rohit though, who got low to wallop a Stuart Binny slower ball high into the night in the 13th over, that began the sequence that beat the wind out of Royals' attack. Two more fours off Binny took the over-tally to 16, before Sharma shuffled around the crease and manipulated the field to score heavily in the next two overs as well.

He had some help from Kieron Pollard as they punished Cooper's errant lengths in the 16th over, which cost 20 and featured a monster pull and a towering slog over wide long-on, and the breathless pace was only heightened when Maxwell arrived next over. He clipped his first ball to square leg for four, before sending the next ball - an almost identical delivery - into the stands on the leg side with a more powerful pick-up stroke.

A straight six, a glanced four and an improvised reverse-scoop over short third man followed, and with Karthik and later Harbhajan also going big at the other end, Mumbai laid down a daunting challenge in the space of twenty minutes. Courageous though their reply was, Royals could not match them.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

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