Mumbai Indians get better of Rajasthan to enter final

Smith, Harbhajan sparkle as Rohit & Co post four-wicket victory

Mumbai Indians get better of Rajasthan to enter final

For a while, a late evening rain threatened to derail the match. But once the game started an hour behind the schedule on Friday, nothing could prevent Mumbai Indians from sealing their place in the final of the IPL VI.

Mumbai, a four-wicket winner over Rajasthan Royals on the day, will now face two-time champion Chennai Super Kings in the title clash here at the Eden Gardens on Sunday. Batting by choice, Royals made 165 for six in 20 overs, and Mumbai overhauled the target with a ball to spare, losing six wickets.

A solid start is mandatory to hunt down a target like 166, and Mumbai openers did just that. Dwayne Smith (62, 44b, 6x4, 2x6) and Aditya Tare (35, 27b, 3x4, 2x6) milked 70 runs in a little over nine overs to give Mumbai a sound platform. Tare did the early running, playing some forceful shots, particularly on the on-side, also amending to a good extent for him shoddy effort on the field.

Even the dismissal of Tare didn’t put breaks on Mumbai scoring as Smith, who made his fourth fifty in this edition of the IPL when he smashed James Faulkner for a six over mid-wicket, along with Dinesh Kaarthick kept Mumbai in the chase with calculated hitting.

But the trouble started for Mumbai with the ouster of Kaarthick, who by then had added 55 runs for the second wicket with Smith, who was quite impressive during his stay fusing power with precision in immaculate fashion.

Mumbai lost three wickets for 13 runs following Kaarthick’s dismissal, and that hindered their flow a bit. The middle-order collapse also brought back the memories of their flawed chase against Super Kings in the first Qualifier at Delhi a few days back. There also Mumbai had contrived to lose the match after making a strong start.

At 141 five, Mumbai were certainly facing a mini-crisis but the Mumbai late-order batsmen ensured that this time there wouldn’t be any Delhi-like gaffe, taking their team past the line in the last over.

Earlier, Rajasthan had a stop-start innings and only a late assault by Dishant Yagnik and Brad Hodge took them to a healthy total. However, they a good beginning with skipper Rahul Dravid and his partner at the totem pole position, Ajinkya Rahane, added 44 runs in 6.3 overs.

There was nothing flashy about their partnership, but pushed the score ahead with well-judged singles and doubles, interspersing with occasional hits to the fence. Dravid’s inside-out shot over the extra-cover off left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, perhaps, was the most stand-out shot in that phase of the innings.

Harbhajan Singh broke that alliance, castling Rahane around the legs and a period followed when the off-spinner contributed in the next four dismissals. The irrepressible Harbhajan jettisoned added the wickets of Dravid and Shane Watson, and also held catches to dismiss Sanju Samson and Stuart Binny.

At 108 for six in 15.1 overs, Royals were in genuine danger of ending their innings with a below-par total on a pitch that stood firm for the entire duration of the match. But Yagnik (31, 17b, 5x4) and Hodge, though he struggled to get his timing right, ensured that Royals reach a competitive total, while adding 57 runs in just 4.1 overs.

It was also easily the best passage of play in Royals’ innings, runs gushing in as the former champions posted a total that on a different day could have fetched them a victory. But on this night, Mumbai weren’t to be denied. It also ended the Rajasthan fairytale.

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