Malinga powers Mumbai to 3 wicket win over Chennai
Chennai: Mike Hussey's fluent half-century went in vain as tail-ender Lasith Malinga produced a whirlwind 18-ball 37-run run knock to hand Mumbai Indians a thrilling three wicket win over defending champions Chennai Super Kings in a Champions League Twenty20 match on Saturday.
Coming on to bat at number nine with Mumbai starring a virtual defeat, Malinga used his long handle to great effect hitting three boundaries and as many sixes to single-handedly turn the match in his side's favour.
Chasing 159 for victory, Mumbai at one stage were down and out of the game tottering at 106 for seven in the 16th over.
But Malinga and stand-in skipper Harbhajan Singh stitched 53 runs off just 28 balls for the eight wicket to see Mumbai home with one ball to spare.
For the first 15 overs, Chennai bowlers were bang on target with R Ashwin (2/23), Suresh Raina (2/6) and Dwayne Bravo (2/22) picking up two wickets to make life difficult for Mumbai.
But Malinga's power-hitting not only changed the complexion of the match but also caught the attention of his injured skipper Sachin Tendulkar, who was seen clapping and acknowledging the Sri Lankan's every shot.
Earlier, Hussey continued his good run of form and made 81 off just 57 balls with help of eight fours and three sixes to help Chennai pile up a competitive 158 for four on a relatively slow MA Chidambaram pitch.
Mumbai's run chase started on a good note with openers Davy Jacobs (18 off 15) and Aiden Blizzard (28 off 21) raising 39 runs in quick time.
But Mumbai then lost five wickets in a span of six overs to lose the tempo.
Off-spinner R Ashwin started Mumbai's slide in the fifth over when he got Jacobs stumped by skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Blizzard, however, continued his attack and hit Dwayne Bravo for two fours in the sixth over before Suresh Raina disturbed his middle stump in the next.
As if that was not enough, Ambati Rayudu, Tirumalsetti Suman and Andrew Symonds then departed in consecutive overs as Mumbai lost half of their side inside the 10-over mark with the scoreboard reading 63.
New man in R Satish (14 off 8) tried to dig Mumbai out of the trouble with a short little burst before he was caught plumb in front of the wicket by Ashwin.
With Kieron Pollard still at the crease, Mumbai had an outside chance but that too faded away when the big-hitting West Indian perished in the 16th over in search of quick runs, caught by Dhoni off Morkel.
But then came in Malinga who, in Harbhajan's company, powered Mumbai to victory from a no-win position.
Earlier, Hussey didn't get much support from the other end as star players Raina (18 off 17), S Badrinath (16) got out cheaply. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni however remained unbeaten on 22.
For Mumbai, young Assam pacer Abu Nechim Ahmed turned out to be the pick of the bowlers with figures of two for 35, while Malinga and Kieron Pollard snared a wicket each. Stand-in Mumbai captain Harbhajan, who returned to competitive cricket today after recovering from his abdomen injury that he sustained in England recently, went for 32 runs in his four wicketless overs.
Contrary to the total, Chennai did not have the best of starts after opting to bat as opener Murali Vijay fell early, when a perfect Malinga yorker breached the India discard's defence.
But Hussey then steadied the Chennai innings in Raina's company as the duo shared a 30-ball 35-run second wicket stand before the latter was stumped in a strange manner by Jacobs off Pollard's bowling.
Next man in Badrinath tried his bit by scoring 16 off 21 balls but failed to prolong his stay at the crease, caught by Rajagopal Sathish off Abu Nechim in the 16th over.
But Hussey was in no mood to relent as after Badrinath's departure he took Mumbai bowlers, especially Malinga for a leatherhunt.
The left-handed Australian batsman seemed in a ferocious mood as he picked up 14 runs off Malinga in the 18th over before perishing in the next in search of quick runs.
Towards the end, Dhoni also hit three boundaries to help his side's cause.