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IPL 6: Mumbai Indians edge out Rajasthan Royals in nail-biter to enter final

 

Mumbai Indians huffed and puffed their way to a four-wicket win over Rajasthan Royals in a thrilling match in Kolkata on Friday night to set up a summit showdown with Chennai Super Kings in the Pepsi Indian Premier League.

Chasing a stiff target of 166, Mumbai had a flying start with opener Dwayne Smith (62) once again coming good up front, before Rajasthan Royals bounced back with Kevon Cooper (2/33) striking in the middle.

Mumbai Indians almost choked in the middle yet again but some sensible batting by young Rishi Dhawan and Harbhajan Singh helped them pip Rajasthan.

It will thus be a repeat of the 2010 final which Mumbai lost.

Dwayne Smith

Dwayne Smith top-scored for Mumbai with 62.

There was a little twist in the tale when Royals took three wickets -- Karthik (22), Rohit Sharma (2) and the prized-scalp of Smith -- in successive overs to leave them at 132 for four in 16.3 overs. But Pollard calmed the nerves with a first-ball six taking them closer to the target.

There was more drama in store when James Faulkner dismissed Pollard in the next over with 25 runs needed from 15 balls and with five wickets in hand.

With 23 needed from the last two overs, Rayudu hit Cooper for a six before being dropped by Brad Hodge, which proved to be the turning point of the game. Rayudu hit a boundary in the next ball to make it an eight-run issue in the last over, which was again full of drama when Watson bowled the batsman with his second ball.

With six needed from four, young Rishi Dhawan, who was included in place of Munaf Patel, showed amazing calm in pressure situation as he walked across the crease before hitting a boundary with a scoop shot that almost settled the issue for Mumbai. Harbhajan then hit the winning shot -- a boundary -- to take Mumabi to their 2nd IPL final. 

A target of 166 might look stiff from the Eden Gardens' context but Mumbai Indians approached it in a quiet yet effective manner with Tare and Smith giving them a flying start. 

Chasing 166 to win, Mumbai Indians reached the target with ione ball to spare.

Earlier, wicketkeeper-batsman Dishant Yagnik played a cameo as Rajasthan Royals rode on a late batting surge to post a decent 165/6.

The Royals scored 61 runs in the last five overs including 18 of the last after opting to bat first on a slow wicket, with rains delaying the start of the game by an hour.

Skipper Rahul Dravid top scored with a 37-ball 43, while offie Harbhajan Singh was the pick of the Mumbai bowlers with figures of 3/23.

Harbhajan
Harbhajan Singh exults after the fall of a Rajasthan Royals wicket.

But the Royals reserved the fireworks for the end overs, when Yagnik(31; 17b 5x4) and Brad Hodge (19; 20b 2x4) stitched an unbroken seventh wicket partnership of 57 in only 27 balls.

Rajasthan earlier had a steady start as the opening duo of Ajinkya Rahane and Dravid hit some crisp boundaries. The Royals skipper was particularly aggressive as he played some of his trademark drives.

Some heated words were also exchanged between Dravid and Mumbai pacer Mitchell Johnson after the batsman hit the Australian for two consecutive fours. The opening stand of 44 was broken in the seventh over when offie Harbhajan Singh castled Rahane (21; 18b 3x4) round his legs.

The wily spinner gave the Royals a big jolt in the next over removing the dangerous Shane Watson. Soon after, the popular Sanju Samson was out for a duck, trying have a go at pacer Lasith Malinga.

Uncomfortably placed at 64/3 with half the overs gone, Stuart Binny and Dravid tried to consolidate the innings, but but disaster struck in the 13thover when Harbhajan got the better of the veteran. Dravid was caught smartly at midwicket by Rohit Sharma.

Binny (27; 17b 3x4 1x6) and Kevon Cooper 4 (2b 1x4) were then devoured by all-rounder Kieron Pollard in his opening over, with both the batters playing rash shots.

Brad Hodge
Brad Hodge's late cameo helped Rajasthan post a decent total against Mumbai in the 2nd qualifier.

Hodge and Yagnik then took charge to carry the battle into the opposition camp.

Bowling the last over Malinga conceded 18 runs including two extremely wide deliveries which allowed the opponent to move to a decent total.

Brief scores:

Rajasthan Royals: 165/6 in 20 overs (Rahul Dravid 43, Dishant Yagnik not out 31; Harbhajan Singh 3/23, Kieron Pollard 2/6)

Mumbai Indians: 169/6 in 19.5 overs (Dwayne Smith 62, Aditya Tare 35; Keevon Cooper 2/33).

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