Yuvraj Singh’s never-ending party at the Wankhede Stadium which began on April 2, with India’ s coronation as World Champions and him being crowned Man of the Series, ended on Wednesday.
The southpaw and captain of the Pune Warriors India (PWI) was dismissed for a second-ball duck as the Warriors were bundled out for 118 in 17.2 overs on a dry but true pitch and then saw the hosts win by seven wickets off the last ball.
Chasing 119, MI rode on, who else, but Sachin Tendulkar’s solid 35 (39 balls, 2×4) and his second-wicket alliance of 74 with the extremely talented Ambati Rayudu 37 (40 balls, 4×4).
The only hiccup for MI was both batsmen throwing it away after getting set. It put pressure on Rohit Sharma and Andrew Symonds who were untested and had to brave some tense moments and missed run out attempts before Rohit lofted Kartik for six over extra cover when MI needed one off the last ball. The frenetic finish was just a minor blip for a team that had played most of its cards right on the day.
Warriors won an important toss and started promisingly with Jesse Ryder and Tim Paine taking the score to 16 in three overs. TV cameras captured a relaxed looking Yuvraj giggling away. But it was MI who had the last laugh as Abu Nechim, into the side in place of the injured Harbhajan Singh, dismissed Jesse Ryder and Mithun Manhas in the space of three deliveries.
Ryder miscued a pull to mid-wicket and Sachin Tendulkar held on to a smart chance. Manhas slashed the first ball he faced and edged it to ‘keeper Rayudu, who donned the gloves in place of the dropped Davy Jacobs to bring in James Franklin to bolster their bowling.
The Warriors too made some changes. They dropped Graeme Smith to bring in Tim Paine and drafted in Murali Kartik for Abhishek Jhunjhunwala. The first change though didn’t work as Munaf Patel castled Paine who missed a slog. Pune had slumped to 17 for 3 and a lot depended on Yuvraj Singh, their skipper. But he lasted just two balls and edged Munaf to Rayudu. Four wickets had been lost for one run in the space of seven balls.
Robin Uthappa and Mohnish Mishra then took the score past 50. In between, Uthappa showed why he was paid $2.1 million by the franchise as he deposited Pollard deep into the pavilion.
More of the same was expected from the duo, but Mishra lost his head against the miserly Ali Mortaza and slogged him into the hands of Rohit at long-on.
Kartik, who was strangely promoted ahead of the more capable Wayne Parnell, poked around and added 35 runs for the sixth wicket with Uthappa, but Malinga had the measure of him.
MI’s fielding had been tigerish and that put pressure on Uthappa who batted well, but without breaking free. He saw the chance to do that against Mortaza but miscued the stroke and Pollard at long on showed that he could fly even without wings as he pulled off the catch of IPL 4, diving full length horizontally and forward to pouch a blinder and end any hopes the Warriors had of a decent total.
As well as Munaf, Malinga and Mortaza bowled, the Warriors had no business to not bat out their full compliment of 20 overs. They wasted 16 deliveries and contributed greatly to Yuvraj’s smile turning into a frown.