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IPL 2015 KXIP vs MI: Harbhajan Blitz Averts Heavy Defeat

By on April 13, 2015

Kings XI Punjab 177 for 5 (Bailey 61*, Harbhajan 2-20) beat Mumbai Indians 159 for 7 (Harbhajan 64, Johnson 2-23) by 18 runs…

Harbhajan Singh’s manic 64 from 24 thrilled the Wankhede in Mumbai Indians’ first home game this season. But the losses sustained early in their innings ensured the hosts would still fall 18 runs short of the 177 set by a George Bailey-propelled Kings XI Punjab. Bailey clobbered 61 from 32 before his team’s quicks combined to ravage the Mumbai’s top order.

Seventh-wicket pair Harbhajan and J Suchith would plunder 100 runs from 37 balls to take the sheen off Sandeep Sharma, Anureet Singh, and Mitchell Johnson’s figures. But those three, with help from Axar Patel’s left-arm spin, had Mumbai effectively derailed, at 46 for 5 after 12 overs.

The chase began to falter almost as soon as it began, when Sandeep swung one viciously in to hit Rohit Sharma’s pads second ball. The Kings XI quicks were not only disciplined enough to shackle the hosts’ top order, they made effective use of the movement which persisted through the early overs.

Aditya Tare was cramped by one that jagged in from Anureet, and could only present a catch to cover. Soon after, Aaron Finch attempted a big blow across the line and saw Johnson peg his off stump back with one that seamed slightly away.

IPL 2015 KXIP vs MI: George Bailey

Credits: ESPN CricInfo

When Corey Anderson was stumped for a pained 5, off Axar in the eighth over, Mumbai slipped to 25 for 4, and were forced into the period of reticence that made even the batting mayhem to come ultimately futile.

Harbhajan and Suchith would reap 15 runs or more from five consecutive overs, but even through that kind of murderous hitting, a Mumbai victory seemed far off, as the required rate hovered around 20. Anureet was launched for three consecutive sixes in the 17th over by Harbhajan, but he would return to dismiss his tormentor with the penultimate ball of the match.

With Kings XI well-placed when Bailey arrived in the 11th over, he picked his way prudently through the middle overs, before embracing violence. After seeing out the impressive Harbhajan, Bailey played his first forceful shot in the 15th over, when he flat-batted a Kieron Pollard length ball down the ground. He then muscled Lasith Malinga over the square leg ropes to hit the first of his three leg-side sixes.

Having been 17 off his first 13 balls, Bailey struck 44 off his next 19 deliveries. That Kings XI didn’t breach 180 was largely due to the relative lethargy in the innings played by the rest of the middle order.

Between them, David Miller, Rishi Dhawan and Johnson hit only 33 off 36 in the back-end of the innings. Harbhajan and Malinga had, however, hit their lengths much better than they had done in the tournament opener.

Earlier, Virender Sehwag had let fly with a vintage salvo, which was dynamic despite its relative brevity. The wallop over the covers off Pawan Suyal in the second over roused memories of his heyday, as did consecutive leaden-footed strikes to the square fence on either side of the pitch off Vinay Kumar, next over.

He whipped Malinga to the boundary for successive fours as well, but in the end was felled by Harbhajan, who was himself providing a performance that harked back to yesteryear.

Sehwag’s 36 off 19 was the guts of the foundation that allowed Bailey time to settle at the crease, later in the innings. Harbhajan ended with figures of 2 for 20, which clearly bred confidence in his batting as well.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo‘s Sri Lanka correspondent.

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