Mumbai Indians went down by 18 runs in a bizarre batting display against a disciplined Kings XI Punjab marshalled by George Bailey in an Indian Premier League encounter at the Wankhede stadium here on Sunday.
The home fans watched in silence as a batting line-up packed with heavyweights imploded.
Staring down the barrel at 79 for six in 15 overs, Harbhajan Singh’s defiant hitting (64, 24b, 5x4, 6x6) threatened to turn the match on its head.
Jagadeesha Suchith showed no stage fright on IPL debut, relying on timing and courage to chip in with 34 not out off 24 balls. The seventh wicket stand of 100 off 37 balls took MI within sniffing distance of victory, before falling short at 159 for seven, chasing 177.
MI was on the backfoot from the moment Sandeep Sharma foxed rival captain Rohit Sharma with a ball cutting back off the pitch. The Haryana swing bowler finished with impressive figures of 4-1-12-1.
Mitchell Johnson, replacing the hard-working Anureet Singh in attack, produced a wicket-maiden in his first over. Aaron Finch was clean bowled by his fellow Aussie, while Corey Anderson lashed out at Axar Patel, and was stumped.
The chase went off track at the halfway mark itself — 32 for four in 10 overs. Kieron Pollard curbed his natural instinct at the crease in a grim battle for survival. Ambati Rayudu flashed his bat against Johnson and was caught behind by the ’keeper.
Earlier, George Bailey swung his bat at everything and created his own angles to execute some stunning shots in his 61 not out off 32 balls, taking KXIP from 134 for four in 16 overs to a healthy 177 for five in 20 overs. The Aussie smashed four boundaries and three sixes.
Harbhajan reined in KXIP on a slow track, bringing his big match experience into play.
The former MI captain claimed the crucial wickets of Virender Sehwag and Murali Vijay, both caught in the deep hitting against the turn.
The visitor got off the blocks in style, with both openers standing tall at the crease and feasting on the bounce with shots on the on-side.
Sehwag started with a flick over mid-wicket, stepped back for a carpet drive to cover, and pulled with abandon for six boundaries and a six before falling to Harbhajan.
MI’s slower bowlers induced the batsmen to hit against the turn, with Sehwag scooping a catch to long-on.
The canny off-spinner challenged Vijay to take him on, a swing to deep square leg was pouched by Suchith on the fence. MI sprung a surprise by handing Suchith his IPL debut after just seven T20 games for Karnataka.
The teenager forced Glenn Maxwell into a risky slog, Rayudu on the mid-wicket boundary making no mistake.