IPL: Harbhajan Singh's five-for helps Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings

Harbhajan Singh registered his maiden five-for against Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League © AFP

On April 22, 2011. Mumbai Indians locked horns with Chennai Super Kings at the Wankhede Stadium. It was billed as a ‘revenge’ match since Chennai had spoiled Mumbai’s party in the final of 2010 edition. Harbhajan Singh orchestrated Chennai’s collapse by picking up five wickets. Sarang Bhalerao revisits that Friday evening in Mumbai.

Twenty days prior to this day, Wankhede Stadium witnessed Indian cricket Renaissance. When Mahendra Singh Dhoni hit Nuwan Kulasekara for a six over mid-wicket the entire country was jubilant. The image of Sachin Tendulkar hugging Dhoni is part of cricketing folklore. But on this day, Dhoni and Tendulkar were in pitted against each other.

Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds, who have been central figures in one of the biggest controversies in cricket history, found themselves in the same team. That was quite interesting. The acrimonious Sydney incident in January 2008 had brought the relationship between India and Australia to nadir. And here were the two protagonists hugging each other and giving hi-fis!

Chennai put Mumbai in who lost opener Sachin Tendulkar early who was bounced out by Doug Bollinger. Rohit Sharma (87) and Andrew Symonds (31*) put Mumbai in a safe position. Mumbai scored 164 off their 20 overs.

Chennai began their run-chase on a positive note. Harbhajan Singh beat Suresh Raina in flight and lured him into playing a drive and held on to the return catch to put Chennai in strife.

IPL: Harbhajan Singh's five-for helps Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings

Andrew Symonds (left) and Harbhajan Singh, who have been central figures in one of the biggest controversies in cricket history, found themselves in the same team © AFP

Michael Hussey and Subramaniam Badrinath stitched an important alliance that put Chennai in a commanding position. In the 12th over, the entire stadium was shouting “Maaalingaaa Maalingaaa”. Malinga bounced out Hussey, who was brilliantly caught inches off the ground by Kieron Pollard.

When Dhoni walked out, Mumbai crowd wanted him to get out. They were cheering for Malinga and jeering for Dhoni. What a reversal of the 2011 World Cup final! IPL is indeed unique.

When Rohit Sharma held a spectacular catch off Dhoni the people ‘were dancing in the aisles’ as Tony Grieg used to say.

Harbhajan came back for his second spell. He was lucky to get away with a full toss. Anirudha Srikkanth hit it straight to deep mid-wicket. On any other day the ball would have cleared the fielder. But maybe this was Harbhajan’s day, as he late acknowledged.

Albie Morkel, Ravichandran Ashwin and Joginder Sharma were dismissed in Harbhajan’s last over. The off-spinning magician had his maiden five-wicket haul in the Indian Premier League.

Badrinath was waging a lone battle. He remained unconquered on 71 but the team fell short by eight runs.

Harbhajan’s guile and loop were refreshing back after his disappointing outing in the World Cup. It was the kind of performances which would have won the approval of even his critics.

Brief scores:

Mumbai Indians 164 for 4 in 20 overs (Rohit Sharma 87; Doug Bollinger 2 for 30) beat Chennai Super Kings 156 for 9 in 20 overs (Subramaniam Badrinath 71*; Harbhajan Singh 5 for 18) by 8 runs.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)