Lower-order cameos by Anderson, Pollard and Tare helped Mumbai chased down Punjab's 168 in 19.1 overs to win by five wickets. (BCCI Images)
Mumbai Indians made a happy return to their fortress Wankhede Stadium on Saturday with a five-wicket win over Kings XI Punjab to open their account in IPL 7, thanks to cameos lower down the order to chase down Punjab's 168 with five balls to spare.
After opener CM Gautam and Rohit Sharma's steady knocks of 33 and 39 respectively, Corey Anderson (35 of 25), Kieron Pollard (28* off 12) and Aditya Tare (16* off 6) played innings that inflicted the first defeat on Punjab after their five wins in a row in the UAE.
Punjab were in the game until the 19th over bowled by pacer Mitchell Johnson who was taken for 20 runs by the pair of Pollard and Tare to tilt the equation decisively in Mumbai's favour. The defending champions then finished the game on the first ball of the 20th over with a six from Pollard. Pollard and Tare put on 44 runs in only 15 balls for the unfinished sixth-wicket stand that took Mumbai home.
Mumbai came from the UAE without a win in five matches, which had put their title-defence in disarray, but Saturday's win will give them some hope of bringing their campaign back on track.
Chasing a challenging target, Mumbai's started on a none-too-promising note when they lost opener Ben Dunk off the fifth ball of the innings and also Ambati Rayudu to be down 33 for 2.
Dunk was caught brilliantly by a diving Wriddhiman Saha behind the wicket off Sandeep Sharma who also accounted for Rayudu by trapping the batsman in front with a ball that moved in sharply and also kept low.
Gautam, promoted in the order in yet another new opening combination for the title holders, and Rohit then repaired the innings with a stand of 47.
After the Powerplay, MI were 49 for 2 and then advanced to 70 for 3 following the exit of Gautam who was dismissed by Rishi Dhawan.
New batsman Anderson smashed a six off Dhawan over long-on to make a good start. The left-hander from New Zealand, whose highest IPL score has been 39 batting at no. 3 against Chennai Super Kings, then hit left-arm spinner Akshar Patel for three fours and a six in the next - the 13th - to swing the game in MI's favour. Patel conceded 20 runs in his last over for expensive figures of 0 for 40.
The dismissal of Sharma and Anderson in successive overs brought Punjab back into the game but Pollard and Tare shattered their hopes.
Earlier, Saha cracked his maiden half-century of the season to help Punjab compile a challenging score after they opted to bat first.
Saha started slowly but then gained confidence in the company of the in-form Glenn Maxwell, who slammed a quick-fire 45 in 27 balls, to remain unconquered on 59 in 47 balls.
Maxwell showed his intent against Malinga by pulling the Sri Lankan bowlers short ball nonchalantly over the mid-wicket region for his first six. Another boundary enabled Punjab to reach 70 at the end of the 10th over after they were pegged down to 36 for 2 at the end of 6.
The Tasmanian then picked Harbhajan Singh for some rough treatment, by stepping out and lofting the offspinner for his second six over long-on.
Saha too slog-swept the wily bowler for a six before Harbhajan exacted revenge by removing Maxwell through a skied catch to long-on in the same over, his third, as the batsman tried to clear the boundary again.
Saha and Punjab captain George Bailey then added 37 runs in 24 balls for the fourth wicket before Harbhajan accounted for the latter through a catch at deep square leg to finish with an impressive 2 for 34.
Punjab added 42 runs in the last five overs. Lasith Malinga was once again impressive during his stint of 1 for 25. The other wicket-taker was Anderson.
With PTI inputs