Bhajji guides Mumbai Indians to victory

MUMBAI: Harbhajan Singh turned out to be a sensational game changer with the bat and ball, and won a match on his own steam. His explosive knock — that yielded virtually all of the eighth-wicket stand of 53 runs — and his early dismissal of Adam Gilchrist — off his second ball — set up Mumbai Indians' comprehensive 41-run win over Deccan Chargers here on Sunday.

It was Mumbai Indians' fifth win from sixth matches. Having reduced Mumbai Indians to 97-6 by the 14th over, Chargers had placed themselves in a commanding position. Until the start of the last five overs, Kemar Roach had impressed with pace and bounce, but without getting a scalp. And seamer RP Singh and spinner Pragyan Ojha had keept it tight, picking up five wickets between them.

The Mumbai Indians, cantering at nine an over at the end of the seventh over, had declined to just a little over five. Mumbai Indians lost opener Shikhar Dhawan early, trapped in front by Jaskaran Singh. Dwayne Bravo struck straightaway and Mumbai Indians advanced at a terrific clip before the West Indian fell to RP Singh. After that, wickets fell in a heap, and when Sachin Tendulkar (55 off 43) fell in the 17th over, Chargers seemed to be in full control.

Then came the Harbhajan Singh show. He began with an on-side six off Andrew Symonds, followed it with a four and then battered a Roach over for 19 runs. With Jaskaran grounded for sending down two beamers, Rohit Sharma bowled the last over and suffered against Harbhajan, giving away 20 runs.

Thanks to Harbhajan's blistering 18-ball 49, Mumbai Indians set a target of 173. Harbajan struck eight fours

and two sixes. It was only on Saturday evening that Harbhajan had expressed hope that it would be a smooth

affair against the Chargers. That was not to be but he ended up playing a huge part in an extraordinary win.