Many a slip betwixt the cup and the lip

The Kings celebrate after conquering Mumbai.-AP

A target of 120 should have been a breeze for Mumbai Indians. But once its superstar openers, Jayasuriya and Tendulkar, fell cheaply, the team lost direction and lost by three runs.

Kings XI Punjab turned around what appeared to be a lost cause at Durban after Mumbai Indians made heavy work of their 120 target. Mumbai never quite recovered from the early loss of its openers, Sanath Jayasuriya and Sachin Tendulkar, and finished four runs short at the end of its stipulated 20 overs. The result also exposed Mumbai's overreliance on its openers.

Punjab, whose win pushed it to second place behind Deccan Chargers and ahead of Delhi Daredevils (on run rate), began its defence of a less-than-imposing total on the right note. Irfan Pathan induced Jayasuriya to nick one to first slip in the first over and then Sachin drove Vikramjeet Malik straight to Jayawardane at point.

WHEN SHIKHAR DHAWAN was trapped in front by Abdullah, the onus of the chase fell on J. P. Duminy (59, 63 balls, 4x4). Mumbai was 47 for four at the midpoint of its innings and the South African pushed and plodded in the company of, first, Dwayne Bravo (15) and then Abhishek Nayar (15) to bring it within a few lusty blows of a win.

Mumbai needed 19 off the last two overs and the Kings team, after a conference, decided to give the ball to paceman Abdullah. But skipper Yuvraj Singh, who was injured and in the dugout, indicated that Piyush Chawla's loopy legbreaks should be tried.

Chawla did not disappoint; he dismissed Harbhajan Singh and then kept a close check on Duminy and S. S. Tiwari. He gave away just seven runs to leave Mumbai with 12 to get from the last six balls.

Duminy had played out the waiting game to perfection, but he failed to get the crucial big hit that would have swung the game his team's way. Abdullah was recalled for the last over and Duminy's hard and flat pull shot off his fourth ball found Taruwar Kohli waiting at deep midwicket.

TIWARI (CHRISTENED `BHEEM' for his hard-hitting ways) mustered two from the penultimate delivery. He spanked the last one through the covers, but Ramesh Powar pounced on it, handing a three-run victory to Punjab.

Earlier, Sangakkara's unbeaten 45 was the fulcrum around which Punjab accrued its 120. The extent of the failure of Punjab's batting can be deduced from the fact that extras (17) made the next highest contribution to the total.

Openers Ravi Bopara and Karan Goel were back in the pavilion with the score on 18. Yuvraj tried to heave Duminy over long on, but ended up holing out to Zaheer Khan who sidestepped to take a perfectly judged catch on the boundary.

KINGS XI'S HOPES AND DREAMS of a late slug fest were scuppered by exceptionally accurate bowling from Mumbai's bowlers, especially Lasith Malinga, at the `death'. Belying his extreme round arm action, Malinga bowled fast and straight and summoned toe-crushers at will.

He clean bowled Mota and Chawla in his third over and finished with figures of 4-0-12-2. Punjab was 50 for three at the 10-over tactical timeout and such was the hold of Mumbai's bowlers that it was able to get just two boundaries off the bat in the last 10.

The scores

Kings XI Punjab 119 for eight in 20 overs (K. C. Sangakkara 45 not out, S. L. Malinga two for 12) bt Mumbai Indians 116 for seven in 20 overs (J. P. Duminy 59, I. K. Pathan two for 20, Y. A. Abdullah two for 19).