Challengers' IPL run ends

Mumbai trounce Kumbles men to reach final

Challengers' IPL run ends

CRUSHED: Mumbai Indians’ players celebrate the wicket of Royal Challengers Bangalore's Rahul Dravid during the first IPL-3 semifinal match at the D Y Patil Sports Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday. PTI

The Challengers were outmuscled by Sachin Tendulkar’s warriors, who rode on a brilliant half century by Saurabh Tiwary and a brutal final onslaught by Kieron Pollard to make it to the title round for the first time.

While the IPL’s form side awaits the winners of Thursday’s semifinal between the Chennai Super Kings and the Deccan Chargers, the Challengers will lock horns on Saturday with the other beaten semifinalists in a bid to secure third place and clinch the final Champions League berth.

The significance of posting runs on the board in the pressure-cooker situation of a cup semifinal was reiterated by the Mumbai Indians, who made the most of Tendulkar’s luck with the coin to amass 184 for five. It wasn’t a total that looked likely when Kumble and Kevin Pietersen spun a web of deceit around the batsmen, but Tiwary’s calculated assault and Pollard’s breathtaking final flourish took the game beyond the reach of the Challengers.

The last five overs produced a massive 77 runs, Pollard smashing 33 off just 13 deliveries, as the Challengers were left facing a gargantuan run-chase.

Except for a brief while when the flair of Robin Uthappa combined with the experience of Rahul Dravid, the Challengers were never really in the hunt. Both were dismissed off successive deliveries after a promising stand of 34, after which the rest found it well nigh impossible to conquer the discipline of the Mumbai Indians bowling and the demands of a spiralling run rate.

Indeed, the biggest worry for the Indians came when Tendulkar exited the park in the fourth over with a bleeding right hand after making a spirited attempt to catch Dravid at slip, even as the Challengers were left bleeding all over by Pollard’s broadsword. The little master split a webbing and required five stitches, but it should take a lot more than that to keep him out of Sunday’s title tilt.

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