Lasith Malinga starred with the ball while Shikhar Dhawan shone with the bat as table-toppers Mumbai Indians thumped tournament laggards Kings XI Punjab by four wickets for their sixth win in the Indian Premier League on Tuesday.
After Mumbai Indians skipper Sachin Tendulkar had put in the visitors, Malinga captured four wickets, including three in four balls, as the home side restricted Kings XI Punjab for 163.
Barring the notable exception of Shaun Marsh, who struck a brisk 47-ball 57 in his first IPL III match, the Punjab top and middle order batsmen capitulated again as the visitors settled for a below-par total.
Subsequently, Shikhar Dhawan (50 off 40 balls) and Saurabh Tiwary (31 off 23) came up with useful knocks as Mumbai cruised to 164 for six in 19.3 overs to consolidate their position atop the points table.
In contrast, it was the sixth defeat of the Punjab side in seven matches.
With Dhawan continuing his purple patch in the tournament, Mumbai’s chase got off to a flier with the openers raising 42 runs before a hushed silence descended on the Brabourne Stadium when Sachin Tendulkar (11) holed out to Irfan Pathan off Piyush Chawla.
Promoted in the batting order, Kieron Pollard (20 off 13 balls) played a characteristically brisk cameo, that included an effortless hitting of Chawla over long-off ropes.
Dhawan at the other end kept going. The left-hander had began with back-to-back fours off Brett Lee and cut and drove with elan.
Pollard fell to Irfan Pathan in the 10th over and then Dhawan, Ambati Rayudu (9) and Dwayne Bravo (8) fell in quick succession but Saurabh Tiwary looked unstoppable.
Even his mistimed shots sharted clearing the ropes as Tiwary imposed himself on the Punjab bowlers.
Tiwary eventually fell in the penultimate over but Mumbai Indians had no problems completing the formality with three balls to spare.
Earlier Malinga (4/22) and Zaheer Khan (3/34) shared seven wickets between them to restrict Kings XI Punjab to 163.
Malinga, who was egged on by the capacity crowd, fired out Irfan Pathan (18) and top-scorer Shaun Marsh (57 in 47 balls) off the fifth and last balls of his third over to be on a hat-trick.
Karan Goel, however, prevented the bowler from achieving the feat but was bowled off the second ball in Malinga’s fourth and final over. Some late order hitting by Piyush Chawla (22) helped the visitors cross the 160 mark.
Earlier in the innings, Malinga got rid off Manvinder Bisla to break the second wicket partnership with Marsh after Zaheer had given Mumbai a flying start by dismissing in-form opener Ravi Bopara with his second ball.
Bopara’s early dismissal dealt a big blow for Punjab who came into the tie with five defeats in six matches and were put in to bat by Mumbai Indians captain Sachin Tendulkar.
Australian Marsh, playing his first match in place of regular captain Kumar Sangakkara who is serving a one-match ban for his bowlers’ tardy over-rate in three previous ties, looked in good touch.
Starting with a fine leg-glance off Ryan McLaren in the first over, left-handed Marsh then timed a push straight beautifully off Zaheer for a four and then pulled and exquisitely on-drove McLaren for successive boundaries to keep the run-rate high.
Skipper Tendulkar brought in sling-arm pacer Malinga for the fifth over in place of McLaren and the Sri Lankan struck a blow immediately with the dismissal of Bisla (11). The batsman checked a drive off a slower ball and skied to Zaheer at straight mid-off.
The 26-year-old Marsh played a superb lofted shot for a straight six on bent knee off Kieron Pollard in the bowler’s first over before the strategic break at the end of nine overs brought the home team two quick wickets – those of stand-in captain Mahela Jayawardene and out-of-form Yuvraj Singh.
A terrible mix-up when Malinga misfielded at backward point sent Jayawardene back to the dugout after the duo had added 49 runs in six overs.
Yuvraj lasted just three balls before flicking Dwayne Bravo to backward square-leg fielder Harbhajan to leave Punjab at 92 for four in the 12th over.
Then Malinga dismissed Irfan Pathan and the well-set Marsh in successive balls in the 16th over to leave the visiting team’s innings in tatters at 124 for six.
Malinga then bowled a superb yorker to completely beat Marsh to complete his third over on a high note. He came back for his final over to dismiss Goel with another excellent yorker.