Mumbai:Harbhajan Singh cracked a stunning 18-ball unbeaten 49 and then grabbed three wickets as Mumbai Indians crushed Deccan Chargers by 41 runs in an Indian Premier League match here on Sunday.
Harbhajan turned the game around for MI with a stunning innings laced with eight fours and two sixes as he single handedly took them from 119 for seven to 172 for seven after the home side were sent into bat and captain Sachin Tendulkar (43-ball 55) had held the innings together with his fourth IPL 3 half-century.
The fiesty off-spinner then took three wickets - including that of dangerous Adam Gilchrist - for 31 runs from his four overs as Deccan Chargers were all out for 131 in 17.4 overs in chase of 173.
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Harbhajan got superb support from pacers Lasith Malinga, who took three for 12 from his 3.4 overs, and Zaheer Khan who returned with figures of 3/21 from his three overs as Mumbai Indians put up a brilliant bowling effort to notch up a comprehensive victory despite the dew playing a part, though small.
For the defending champions Deccan Chargers, Rohit Sharma was the only batsman to offer resistance to the Mumbai bowlers, top-scoring with a 25-ball 45 which was studded with three fours and two sixes. Herschelle Gibbs contributed a 16-ball 27 which had three fours and two sixes in it.
With Sunday's win, third on the trot and their fifth in the tournament from six matches, Mumbai Indians are on top of the league standings with 10 points.
It was also a splendid revenge for MI for the massive 10-wicket defeat suffered at the hands of today's rivals two years ago at this ground in IPL's inaugural season.
For Deccan Chargers, Sunday's loss was their third in six matches and have six points to their kitty.
Deccan Chargers began their run-chase on a disastrous note by losing skipper Adam Gilchrist to the second ball and to an inspired piece of captaincy by Tendulkar.
Harbhajan was asked to bowl the first over and the off spinner - who has had lots of success in India against the Australians - got rid off the dangerous Gilchrist to a slip catch by Tendulkar.
It was Gilchrist's masterly century (109 in 47 balls) that had floored the Mumbai outfit comprehensively two years ago at this venue and his dismissal was celebrated with much fanfare by the two central figures - Harbhajan and Tendulkar.
Gibbs threatened to take the bowling by the scruff for a brief while when he struck forcefully but he was sent back for 27 by Zaheer Khan after he carted the India pace spearhead for successive sixes in the fifth over.
Malinga, brought in as second change to bowl the sixth over, struck two big blows in five balls to get rid off Monish Mishra and another danger man Andrew Symonds which put MI right on top and the Chargers struggling at 50 for four at the end of the power play.
Harbhajan came back into the attack for his second spell and sent back T Suman with a high full toss that was tapped back to him by the batsman to break the fifth wicket stand between him and Rohit Sharma. He then got rid off Jaskaran Singh to finish his stint on a high.
Sharma offered some resistance hitting two fours and as many sixes in his 28-ball 45 before being eighth out in the 17th over and it was all over by then.
Earlier, Sachin Tendulkar continued his sublime form with his fourth IPL 3 half century, and seventh overall, to hold the Mumbai Indians innings together before Harbhajan's quickfire 18-ball unbeaten 49 took the total to 172 for 7.
Tendulkar, who hit nine fours in his 43-ball 55, stood tall to make his fourth half-century in six matches after his team was asked to take first strike.
A determined and reshuffled Deccan Chargers bowling attack chipped away relentlessly to trigger a collapse before Harbhajan 18-ball cameo which had eight fours and two sixes helped Mumbai Indians reached a competitive total.
Tendulkar, coming into the match with back-to-back match-winning efforts of 71 not out and 72 in the previous two ties, was again the bulwark for Mumbai though he could not find strong support at the other end.
The only partnership worth of note in the innings till Harbhajan pulverising knock was the 60-run stand Tendulkar forged with Dwayne Bravo (23 in 16 balls) before the home team lost five wickets in 35 balls.
Pacer R P Singh and spinner Pragyan Ojha triggered the collapse with two wickets apiece and from 64 for one Mumbai Indians were 92 for five before Jaskaran Singh dismissed Kieron Pollard to leave MI at 93 for five in the 14th over.
Tendulkar was out in the 17th over while trying to force the pace, top-edging a pull off R P Singh to rival skipper and stumper Adam Gilchrist to give the left arm bowler his third wicket of the innings.
Harbhajan used the long handle to strike a few meaty blows, slamming Andrew Symonds and Kemar Roach for a six each, to give the total a healthier look. Nineteen runs came off the penultimate over with the feisty off-spinner hitting Roach for a six and three fours.
The last over started by Jaskaran Singh was dramatic as he had to be taken off the attack after bowling two beamers at Harbhajan off the first two balls.
The over was completed by Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan cracked the part-timer for three fours to end the MI innings on a high note.