The change of country in the seventh edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL) brought a contrasting change in fortunes for Mumbai and Punjab, as the defending champions returned to their home venue, the Wankhede stadium, to defeat Kings XI Punjab by five wickets.
Punjab had looked the most settled combination in the UAE, winning all five matches in the first leg of the cash-strapped league. However, the return to Indian conditions thwarted their form.
After remaining winless in their five matches played in the Emirates, the Mumbai outfit was asked to chase a steep target of 169 on a batting-friendly track but a 20-run over bowled by Mitchell Johnson changed the game in the favour of the hosts.
Kieron Pollard was the batsman who tore into the Australian on his way to an unbeaten 28 off 12 balls. Captain Rohit Sharma top-scored with 39 off 34 balls, as four batsmen made small but significant contributions in a successful chase for the hosts.
Earlier in the day, Punjab posted a challenging score courtesy another whirlwind innings by the Australian right-hander Glenn Maxwell. He continued his scintillating form and smashed 45 off only 27 balls.
However, the top-scorer was the talented right-hander Wriddhiman Saha who scored 59 off 47 balls. His innings was studded with four hits to the fence besides three sixes.
Harbhajan Singh was the best bowler for Mumbai taking two wickets in his four-over spell, while Corey Anderson and Lasith Malinga accounted for one batsman each.
Meanwhile, Pollard had a forgetful day with the ball. The medium-pacer went for 32 runs in 2.3 overs, but later made up for his tardy bowling with a spell-binding cameo with the bat.
His batting form has been a huge lift for the Mumbai team that has otherwise looked ordinary thus far in the event. The result might act as a tonic for Mumbai as they try to turn around their campaign.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 4th, 2014.
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