Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jayasuriya helps Tendulkar register a win

The Mumbai Indians team – and in all probabilities, all the Indians – would have been pleased as a punch when the maestro Sachin Tendulkar declared himself fit for today's match against the Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium. Incidentally, this was one of the two matches that was shifted from the picturesque Dr. D.Y. Patil cricket ground to Wankhede. The Mumbai team was also playing in its first match after a five day break, which was like a double edged sword; in a tournament this long, the cricketers could do well to switch off mentally and physically, from the game, however, it may also take that edge off their game. Tendulkar came into the side at the expense of Saurabh Tiwari - an under 19 World Cup player - whereas Mahendra Singh Dhoni got his talisman bowler, Joginder Sharma, in place of the a slightly under fire, Palani Amarnath. Sachin Tendulkar also managed to win the toss and quite expectantly elected to field first. This has been the tactic that most captains have been glad to use, bar Sourav Ganguly - who has preferred to set the target - and Dhoni made the same point at the toss, he would have fielded too. Chennai Super Kings have been struggling for runs at the top of the order from their openers, and Stephen Fleming has not quite been able to fill in the big boots of Mathew Hayden – both literally and figuratively if one may add – and tonight was no different. Vidyut Sivaramakrishnan hit three boundaries in Ashish Nehra's first over, and was even dropped off Pollock's next, but perished in the same over, where as Dwayne Bravo's first over had enough bounce to take care of Suresh Raina. Dhawal Kulkarni has been quietly making some waves in the tournament, where he has been very successful is because most of the batsmen have played him with rather complacence. With Shaun Pollock off the attack, the Chennai batsmen tried to go after this Mumbai bowler without having a reasonable look at him and both Fleming and Chamra Kapugedera departed in the same over. Captain Dhoni joined S. Badarinth at the crease, and for starters, he could not get bat to ball. In fact, he faced a maiden off Pollock and took nine deliveries to get off the mark, and after 11 overs, the Chennai team had scored only 66/4 – way below par by T20 standards. The positive side to this was that the pair got a sighter in the first couple of overs they played, once they were set, they went after the bowling. With a slightly older ball, and the 4th and the 5th bowlers getting their overs out of the way, Dhoni targeted some of them, as the last five overs went for 67 runs, and Chennai managed to get to a respectable 156/6 in 20 overs. Badri scored his second fifty in as many matches, where as the skipper managed a 35-ball 43, after such a sedate start! No total looked unachievable in the 1996 World Cup when Jayasuriya got going, and the today, it looked like Jayasuriya of those old days. Opening with Sachin Tendulkar, he tore into the Chennai bowling, treating both the opening bowlers, Manpreet Gony and Albie Morkel with equal disdain. In fact, Mumbai Indians set the record for scoring the most runs in the first six overs, 78/0, out of which Tendulkar’s contribution was only 11, and Jayasuriya scored 59, such was his power. Morkel went for a four and a six in his first over, two sixes in his second and as if to prove an algebraic progession touch to it, two sixes and two fours in his third before Dhoni got him out of the attack and brought in Joginder Sharma. Sharma did get the wicket of Tendulkar sending the Wankhede into a stunned silence, but the damage was too little, too late to affect the Mumbai chase. Jayasuriya quietened down a little after the fielding restrictions were lifted, but that was more of an aberration than habit. Again, as if to prove he was only waiting for Muthiah Muralitharan, Jayasuriya went after his comrade-turned-foe, Murali leaking for twenty runs off his two. Chamara Kapugedera was given a chance to pluck a miracle out of thin air, what he only got was a spanking from the Islander, his first five balls going for three 6s and two 4s, in turn ending the match and getting Jayasuriya to his first hundred of the IPL! Incidentally it was the fifth one of the tournament as well. Mumbai Indians had achieved their target of 157 in the 14th over, losing one wicket only, which not only gave them two invaluable points, but also improved their run rate to within 0.3 of Delhi's NRR, with one lesser match played. It would be a needless waste of print space; yet he deserves one further mention. Sanath Jayasuriya's eleven sixes not only won him the DLF Maximum Sixes award, but also the Man-of-the-Match. This win takes Mumbai Indians to eight points from eight, just behind Delhi (8 off 9) and Kolkata (10 off 9) .

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