x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Harbhajan Singh critical of Wankhede pitch despite win over Deccan

Mumbai Indians struggle in run chase to beat Deccan Chargers on a wicket that saw just 201 runs scored and as many as 15 wickets taken.

Lasith Malinga, third from left, took four wickets at Wankhede Stadium last night. Punit Paranjpe / AFP
Lasith Malinga, third from left, took four wickets at Wankhede Stadium last night. Punit Paranjpe / AFP

Harbhajan Singh last night expressed his disappointment at the state of his home pitch after the Mumbai Indians beat the Deccan Chargers by five wickets in a low scoring Indian Premier League (IPL) match.

Harbhajan, the Mumbai captain, took two wickets for just 13 runs but criticised the batting conditions at Wankhede Stadium.

"[It was] a different wicket from what we have played at the Wankhede. Not good for T20 cricket," the off-spinner said at the post-match presentation.

"I came today and saw the pitch and said whoa, what to expect here, we never know what to expect from this track, ever."

He was, however, critical of the quality of batting from both sides when he said: "We did not play any better than Deccan, both teams batted poorly."

Indeed Deccan, who were put in to bat by Harbhajan, could only manage 100 runs in 18.4 overs as none of their batsmen even reached a 30-plus score. Like in their previous games, a number of Deccan's batters got into double figures before throwing their wickets away. Shikhar Dhiwan was the top scorer with 29.

Cameron White, the stand-in captain for Deccan, said: "It was an important toss but we did not play too well."

Lasith Malinga, the Sri Lanka pacer, was the destroyer-in-chief, taking four for 16 and James Franklin, the New Zealand seamer, ending with figures of two for 18.

The South African JP Duminy remained unbeaten on 25 as Malinga brought the innings to close with the last three wickets in five deliveries.

Mumbai had some anxious moments in a tricky run-chase when the South African Richard Levi was bowled by his fellow countryman Dale Steyn off the very first ball.

Steyn bowled with good pace to grab two for 10 off his four overs and the man-of-the-match award, but Rohit Sharma made 42 and Ambati Rayudu hit an unbeaten 19 to see the home team through to 101 for five in 18.1 overs.

The victory lifted Mumbai to third in the table with 10 points from five wins and four losses, while the Chargers have only three points after eight games.

In yesterday's other game, the Delhi Daredevils beat the Rajasthan Royals by one run.

Virender Sehwag sat proudly at the top of the IPL last night and said: "I think I am loving this format."

Sehwag hit a quick-fire 63 off 39 balls, his fourth successive half century, as his Delhi side made 152 for six against Rajasthan and then produced some brilliant bowling at the end of the innings to claim a thrilling one-run victory.

Rajasthan looked on course to chase down their target of 153 when they needed just 15 runs off the last two overs with nine wickets in hand.

But Morne Morkel conceded just three and dismissed Brad Hodge in the penultimate over.

Ajinkya Rahana sliced Umesh Yadav over the point boundary for a six in the last over and brought down the target to two off the last ball, but Owais Shah was run out to leave the Royals stranded on 151 for three.

The in-form Rahane finished unbeaten on 84 off 63 balls, while Rahul Dravid made 40.

“That was Rajasthan’s game to be lost when they needed 15 off the last two overs with nine wickets standing,” Sehwag said.

“Suddenly Morne Morkel produced an excellent penultimate over. The bowlers did an excellent job, Morkel did really well, I asked him to be free and bowl with freedom”.

Morkel put his performance down to confidence and hours of practice bowling yorkers.

“I want to bowl well in the back end of games, that is an important portion of the game and I was lucky to do well today,” he said.

Dravid said: “I think we had them on the mat, [but] left it too late, Morkel bowled an excellent over and this will hurt for sure.

“I am proud of my team, there are not too many big players but they are fighting hard. They would have gained a lot from winning the game.”

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