Lasith Malinga and captain Harbhajan Singh produced crucial two-wicket bursts to help the Mumbai Indians defeat the Pune Warriors by one run in a low-scoring game in the Indian Premier League on Thursday.
Malinga (2-25) and Harbhajan (2-18) both struck in successive overs at different times as Pune were restricted to 119-6 in reply to Mumbai’s 120-9 at the Subrata Roy Sahara Stadium.
For Pune, Mithun Manhas made an unbeaten 42, but with eight runs needed off the final two deliveries from Munaf Patel, lower-order batsman Bhuvaneshwar Kumar could manage only six.
Pune, who had won the previous encounter between the teams by 28 runs at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium, were made to struggle as Harbhajan produced a double strike to instill interest in the proceedings.
New Zealand left-hander Jesse Ryder holed out at long-on, while Australia Test captain Michael Clarke (14) was trapped leg before wicket by a delivery that came in from the off-stump.
With Robin Uthappa (18) and Steven Smith (2) also failing to do much, Pune were reduced to 47-4 by the 10th over, before Manhas and Ganguly (16) put their team back on track with a 47-run stand for the fifth wicket.
However, just when Pune seemed to be taking control, Malinga came on to dismiss Ganguly and Wayne Parnell (2).
“The pitch was slow, low, and it was difficult to play strokes,” Harbhajan said. “We did not expect the pitch to play this way, but our bowlers did a great job. You’ve got to be active and move fielders around in such situations.”
Earlier, left-arm pace bowler Ashish Nehra stifled Mumbai after they got a good start from openers Sachin Tendulkar (34) and James Franklin (25), who were the two highest scorers for their team and featured in a solid 50-run stand.
Mumbai, who were cruising along at 81-2 in the 12th over, lost their way after Tendulkar’s dismissal.
Nehra, who had been whacked for 14 runs by Franklin in his first over, conceded only five in his remaining three overs and he also came up with two important strikes. He induced an edge from Tendulkar to wicketkeeper Uthappa and then had Robin Peterson (13) caught at long-off when the South African miscued a pull shot.
Mumbai are third with six wins and four losses from 10 games, while Pune are eighth in the nine-team league with four wins and seven losses from 11 outings.