Arun Gopalakrishnan in Mumbai
Match Report: Final – Rajasthan Royals vs Mumbai Indians
MI win CLT20 title for Sachin Tendulkar
The Rajasthan Royals’ run-chase was a reflection of true grit, determination and a never-say-die attitude one has come to associate with the team. Set to chase a mammoth 203, the Royals innings began on a disastrous note as opener Kushal Perera was run-out in the very first over. But that set the stage for young Sanju Samson, who was promoted to bat at No.3. The 18-year-old showed no nerves despite the huge task in front of him. He played some outrageous shots – mostly through the leg-side – en route to his fourth half-century in Twenty20 cricket, which gave his team a serious chance of overhauling the MI score.
He welcomed Harbhajan Singh with a six straight down the ground and then dispatched a Rishi Dhawan delivery over into the second tier at long-on. The hugely impressive Nathan Coulter-Nile too wasn’t spared; Samson hit him for a six over long-on and two boundaries in the fifth over. After Pragyan Ojha was deposited into the stands at midwicket, the teenager bisected the fielders at short-thirdman and point to bring up his half-century.
While Rahane ticked the strike over smartly and picked up boundaries with some elegant strokes whenever the opportunity presented itself, Samson muscled his way to 60 before he miscued one to Harbhajan Singh at short-thirdman. The teenager hit four boundaries and as many sixes in his 33-ball knock and dominated the second-wicket partnership, which was worth 109 runs.
Harbhajan Singh swung the match in favour of his team with four wickets in quick succession. He struck for the first time in the 15th over when he deceived Shane Watson with a top-spinner and had the Australian caught at long-on. He followed that up with three wickets in one over – the 17th of the innings – to knock the stuffing of the run-chase. The off-spinner should count himself lucky that Rahane – batting like a dream on 65 – hit a low full toss straight down the throat of the man patrolling the midwicket fence. Stuart Binny became his third victim when he played all over a flighted delivery and had his stumps knocked over. He rounded off his spell with the wicket of Kevon Cooper, who attempted to heave through the leg-side, but lifted his back foot just as wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik whipped off the bails.
From 137 for two, the Rajasthan Royals collapsed to be bowled out for 169. Rahul Dravid, batting in his final innings, managed only one run before he had his stumps shattered by a Coulter-Nile yorker.
MI were led by the most experienced bowler in their ranks – Harbhajan Singh; the off-spinner picked up four wickets, while Kieron Pollard (3/31), Coulter-Nile (1/33) and Pragyan Ojha (1/26) played their parts.
Earlier in the evening, the Mumbai Indians were off to a sedate start after being put in to bat. Though Dwayne Smith hit a six of the third ball of the innings, there weren’t too many other scoring opportunities early on. He picked up two more boundaries and his opening partner Sachin Tendulkar picked up a boundary through cover as Mumbai Indians posted a respectable 27 after four overs.
Tendulkar, who scored seven runs from his first ten balls, broke the shackles with two crisp boundaries off Shane Watson; a deft leg glance sent the ball racing to the fine-leg boundary, after which the Little Master played a glorious cover drive. But his attempt to play another such drive brought about his downfall; Watson got one to nip back, sneak through the gap between bat and pad, and crash into the off-stump behind Tendulkar. Playing in his last innings in the limited overs format, Tendulkar was dismissed for 15.
The Royals pulled things back conceding only 20 runs between overs six and 10. Smith broke the lull in play in the 11th over with three powerful shots off Watson; the first ball was pulled away to midwicket, the second delivery was carved through cover and the third ball was hit away to the square-leg boundary.
Just as the match was slipping away from the Royals, leg-spinner Pravin Tambe struck twice in two overs. He deceived Smith with a flipper and had his off-stump pegged back; the MI opener made 44 from 39 balls. After MI captain Rohit Sharma and Rayudu (29 from 24 balls) picked up 16 runs of Stuart Binny’s first over, Tambe struck again beating the latter in flight and had his off stump knocked out of the ground.
Rohit Sharma stamped his authority from the moment he took strike; he nonchalantly deposited the third delivery of his innings over the boundary at midwicket and caressed one through cover in the same over. A deft paddle off Rahul Shukla that sent the ball to the fine-leg boundary was followed by superb placement between the point and cover fielders. MI then picked 20 runs off the 16th over bowled by Kevon Cooper; after Kieron Pollard flat-batted one to the long-on boundary, the MI captain muscled one over the long-on fence in the 16th over before Pollard nudged one through thirdman to pick up a boundary.
The Rajasthan Royals pulled things back by dismissing both batsmen in the space of six deliveries. James Faulkner found his way into Pollard’s stumps, while Sharma – coasted to 33 of 13 balls – before finding the man at wide long-on.
Having dismissed the two dangermen, the Rajasthan Royals must have fancied keeping their opponents to under 180. However, the bowlers lost the plot in the final three overs in the face of an onslaught by Glenn Maxwell and Dinesh Karthik. Maxwell, who was in murderous mood, picked up four boundaries and two sixes, before he was run-out in the final over; he made 37 from 14 deliveries. The 15-ball association between him and Karthik realized 41 runs.
Karthik, who hit the first ball he faced for a six, remained unbeaten on 15 from five balls and he had the company of Harbhajan Singh (seven from two balls) as he walked back to the dressing room at the end of the innings. MI realized 98 runs from their final six overs to finish at 202/6.
Trivia: Glenn Maxwell’s 37 in this match was his highest score in his brief career with the Mumbai Indians.
There was only one six hit in the first 10 overs of the Mumbai Indians innings. In the second half of their innings, the MI batsmen plundered eight sixes.
There were only five dot balls bowled in the final six overs of the Mumbai Indians innings.
Pravin Tambe did not concede a single six in the entire Karbonn Smart CLT20 2013.
Man of the Match: Harbhajan Singh for his four-wicket haul
Player of the Tournament: Dwayne Smith for his consistent showing at the top of the MI order
Golden Bat Winner: Ajinkya Rahane (RR)
Golden Wicket Winner: Pravin Tambe (RR)