Kolkata: Mumbai Indians set their date with Chennai Super Kings on Sunday's IPL 6 final after beating Rajasthan Royals by four wickets in the second Qualifier at the Eden Gardens on Friday. Following a stellar performance in the field by Harbhajan Singh (3 for 23), Mumbai were steered towards victory by Dwayne Smith before a collapse of 4 for 16 changed the tone of the chase. In the end, Mumbai held their nerve to win with one delivery emaining, leaving Rajasthan to rue a very poor fielding effort.
After unseasonal showers in Kolkata delayed the start of the match by an hour, Rahul Dravid opted to bat and played a role in giving Rajasthan a start. Dravid packed punch into his crisply-timed strokes, especially to the leg side, and even engaged in a verbal joust with Mitchell Johnson who he drove past mid-off and clipped off the pads effortlessly. Rahane too played a couple lovely shots during his 21, the pick of the lot being a perfect cut for four off Johnson.
An opening stand of 44 ended in Harbhajan's first over - the seventh - when Rahane missed a sweep and was bowled around the legs. In his second over, Harbhajan had Shane Watson (6) caught at midwicket as a top-edged sweep failed to find distance. From 60 for 1 Rajasthan slipped to 108 for 6 as Mumbai applied the brakes. Sanju Samson (0) mistimed an on-side shot off Lasith Malinga and was taken by Harbhajan at midwicket, who then had Dravid (43) caught at the same position by Rohit Sharma.
Stuart Binny pulled out a few eye-catching strokes - Harbhajan was dabbed to third man, Pragyan Ojha sliced over extra cover for six - before he fell for 27 off 17 balls, slapping Kieron Pollard straight to Harbhajan at extra cover. Kevon Cooper (4) went next, two deliveries later, when he swung Pollard out to deep square leg.
A useful 31 off 17 balls from Dishant Yagnik helped Rajasthan score 57 in the last 27 deliveries, 18 of which came in the last over bowled by Malinga which included two of the most shocking wides bowled in recent memory. Malinga let rip two massive wides down the leg side, the second of which landed on the adjacent pitch and sped away to the fine leg boundary. That woeful over took Rajasthan to 165 but it ended up insufficient as Smith led the run-chase with another sparkling innings.
Smith initially played second fiddle to Aditya Tare, with a 70-run opening stand in 9.1 overs. Tare was the more fluent of the pair, cutting and pulling with a power; Smith struggled to time his big shots and so resorted to nudging the ball around. Tare wasted no time in taking on James Faulkner with a pulled six and took boundaries off Watson's first two deliveries with ease. Rajasthan misfielded inside the circle and in the deep to give both openers easy runs.
Looking to attack Kevon Cooper, Tare (35) lofted to long-on. Smith reached his second consecutive fifty in 38 balls by slogging Faulkner for six over midwicket, but the game had further twists in store. Cooper struck to get Dinesh Karthik (22) caught at point and Siddharth Trivedi bowled Rohit Sharma (2), and then Smith (62) and Pollard (11) fell in successive overs when flicking aerially to the deep. Adding to the tension was dropped catch by Brad Hodge running in from deep square leg, a reprieve that cost seven runs. Ambati Rayudu drove the next ball from Cooper for four and then took a single to get back on strike.
Needing eight off the last over, Rayudu scampered two off the first but was then bowled for 17 by Watson off the second. Rishi Dhawan boldly walked across the stumps to paddle the next ball over short fine leg for four, and the winning runs came when Harbhajan slammed Watson over the covers for four. Mumbai will now play CSK in a repeat of the 2010 IPL final.
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