Kings XI owes it to Yuvraj

Jubilant Kings XI Punjab players after beating Mumbai Indians by a run.-VIVEK BENDRE

Mumbai Indians, in reply to Kings XI’s 189 for four, came close to the target and finished a run short at the Wankhede Stadium. Nandakumar Marar reports.

Yuvraj Singh found the wind blowing his way as Kings XI Punjab thwarted Mumbai Indians’ valiant chase to win a heart-stopping contest by one run. The Punjab captain came up with a sensational run out. It was the last ball of the match. He leapt and dislodged the stumps even as Vikrant Yeligetti, a young Mumbai off-spinner, tried to reach home. If the Mumbai batsman had reached the crease then the score would have been tied.

Yeligetti was the fifth run out as Mumbai, in reply to Punjab’s 189 for four, came close to the target and finished one run short at the Wankhede stadium.

Four run-outs earlier in the innings (Dwayne Smith, Sachin Tendulkar, Siddharth Chitnis and Ashish Nehra) meant the T20 world record for run-outs was equalled (Sinhalese Sports Club vs Ragama in Colombo, March 2007). Third umpire Suresh Shastri, called to make the judgement after field umpires asked for television replays, was kept busy.

Shastri had negated a run-out appeal against Luke Pomersbach (batting on 21), after repeated TV replays could not determine whether Shaun Pollock’s throw from the boundary had hit the stumps directly. There was a doubt that the bails could have come off due to bowler Smith’s effort. The Kings XI left-hander rattled up 79 not out (50 balls, 10 fours, three sixes).

Mumbai pointed out that Smith also deserved the benefit of doubt after Piyush Chawla broke the stumps with his arm, though the ball was in the bowler’s hand.

The Mumbai Indians team management lodged an official complaint against the third umpire later. At the post-match media briefing, Tendulkar said, “We are not allowed to comment, but yes, everyone has seen how the decisions went. I’m not trying to indicate anything to anyone, but had the run-outs not happened, we would’ve got the extra runs and won.”

“Mumbai Indians were going good till then, but later when they needed 18 runs off the last over, we had the better chance,” said the Punjab captain. In fact Tendulkar’s dismissal, the first of five run-outs, was the turning point of the match.

The Mumbai captain was sent back by Robin Uthappa after playing Irfan Pathan to mid-wicket. Before Sachin could reach the crease, the bowler dashed across and broke the stumps at the non-striker’s end.

Yuvraj made two bold moves. He brought leg-spinner Chawla into the attack and had Abhishek Nayar caught on the fence.

The Mumbai all-rounder had hit two sixes off V. R. V. Singh and looked determined to tame the bowling when the Kings XI captain, acting on gut feeling, turned to the young spinner.

Later, when the experienced Pollock and the dangerous Uthappa were at the crease, Yuvraj himself came on to bowl. “When I chose to bowl myself for one over, it was a big gamble but I took it. Had I gone for runs, then the game would have been lost. Thankfully, the move worked,” said Yuvraj, looking back at those thrilling twists and turns.

Pollock tried a paddle sweep, and Chawla did the rest at short third man. Uthappa lofted Yuvraj and Shaun Marsh, stationed at long-on, took the catch.

Mumbai Indians were on course, as long as Tendulkar was at the crease. He hit 12 fours and placed the ball between fielders for sharp singles.

The home team was 31 runs away from victory ( 159-4 in 17 overs) when Tendulkar was out. He raised his bat in response to the applause from the fans.

“Batsman calls for a run but you can’t hear due to the noise from the crowd. Sometimes judgement does go wrong, it happens,” said the icon about his dismissal. “I had asked Robin to play out the ball, for it was Irfan’s last ball of the over and after that the game would change. There was a mix-up and Irfan did a good job to hit the stumps.”

Tendulkar’s 65 off 46 balls, his first T20 half-century, was preceded by astonishing hitting from Kings XI’s second-wicket pair of Shaun Marsh (81 off 56) and Luke Pomersbach (79 not out off 50).

Signed up on coach Tom Moody’s recommendation, both the Western Australia left-handers smashed anything within range. Marsh was clinical and Pomersbach brutal in taking the Mumbai bowling apart, after Pollock’s masterly spell of three overs at the start. The South African did not bowl the fourth over and the other bowlers were cannon fodder for the two Aussies.

The Scores

Kings XI Punjab v Mumbai Indians, Wankhede Stadium, Mumbai, May 21, 2008.

Result: Kings XI Punjab won by one run.

Kings XI Punjab 189 for four in 20 overs (S. E. Marsh 81, L. A. Pomersbach 79 n.o., S. D. Chitnis 2-40) beat Mumbai Indians 188 in 20 overs (S. T. Jayasuriya 20, S. R. Tendulkar 65, D. R. Smith 20, A. M. Nayar 27, S. Sreesanth 2-35, Yuvraj 2-12).