Mumbai Indians salvages some pride

Tendulkar and Jayasuriya... a fine partnership.-PTI

Mumbai Indians, which finished fifth in the league, hopes to improve its position in the coming years. K. C. Vijaya Kumar reports.

The backdrop had a touch of despair to it: two teams with only pride to play for after failing to qualify for the semi-finals. And add to it overcast skies, afternoon showers and whispers of a washout!

Thankfully, the skies cleared by late evening and Sanath Jayasuriya lifted the mood at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium with resounding shots from his willow as he, along with skipper Sachin Tendulkar, helped Mumbai Indians register a nine-wicket victory ov er Bangalore Royal Challengers in a DLF Indian Premier League match.

After rain delayed the start by 90 minutes and shortened the match to 18 overs per side, Tendulkar opted to field on winning the toss. Speedster Dilharo Fernando capitalised on a top-order that swung its bat a shade too early to return figures of four for 18.

Mark Boucher and Sreevats Goswami perished in the deep while Misbah-ul-Haq prodded one straight to Tendulkar at slip. A tentative Royal Challengers skipper Rahul Dravid failed to last long and the home side managed some runs through cameos by Cameron White (26) and Vinay Kumar (23). Royal Challengers finished at 122 for nine in 18 overs.

The chase proved to be a fifth-gear cruise as Jayasuriya (54, 37b, 4x4, 4x6) tided past Anil Kumble’s opening over and then drilled a couple of sixes off Vinay Kumar. Tendulkar (40 n.o., 42b, 4x4, 1x6) meanwhile scampered his singles and farmed the strike to Jayasuriya who kept finding the fence.

The Sri Lankan eventually perished, top-edging a swivel-pull off Dale Steyn but by then the openers had shared a 96-run partnership that helped Mumbai Indians finish with 14 points and the fifth spot in the league.

Tendulkar found his voice in a B. Akhil over, slamming one past covers and later he lashed Kumble over long-off. He also found an able ally in Robin Uthappa. Tendulkar struck the winning boundary, hitting Kumble fine past short third-man.

For Royal Challengers a summer of discontent had finally come to a close. The team finished with eight points and escaped the wooden spoon as Deccan Chargers finished at the bottom. “We did not perform well and it is disappointing. Personally I started a bit slow and later I improved but then it is team success that counts and that we missed,” Dravid said.

Meanwhile Mumbai Indians’ coach Lalchand Rajput mentioned that the team would improve its position in the coming years.

And as the IPL bandwagon rolled onto Mumbai for the concluding phase, a touch of pathos also lingered in Bangalore as umpire A. V. Jayaprakash announced his retirement.

“I am happy to finish with a game at my home and I am happy that I did umpiring with a lot of conviction,” Jayaprakash said after officiating in the match.

THE SCORES Bangalore Royal Challengers v Mumbai Indians,

M. Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bangalore, May 28, 2008.

Result: Mumbai Indians won by nine wickets.

Bangalore Royal Challengers 122 for nine in 18 overs (C. White 26, Vinay Kumar 23, S. Goswami 20, Fernando four for 18, D. Smith three for 26) lost to Mumbai Indians 126 for one in 16 overs (Jayasuriya 54, Tendulkar 40 n.o.).