|Rohit Sharma in action, at the Kotla, on Wednesday. (PTI)
New Delhi: Perth Scorchers found Mumbai Indians too hot to handle as the IPL-VI champions stormed into the Champions League T20 semi-finals with a six-wicket victory, at the Kotla, on Wednesday.
Mumbai Indians needed to overcome the target of 150 in 14.2 overs to edge out Otago Volts on better run-rate. Mumbai Indians reached the target in 13.2 overs, thanks to a couple of aggressive knocks from Dwayne Smith (48) and Rohit Sharma (51 not out).
While Smith struck his runs in 25 balls, the Mumbai skipper tore through the inept bowling of the opposition to fetch his runs in only 24 deliveries.
Mumbai Indians suffered an early blow when Sachin Tendulkar departed in the second over without troubling the scorers. There was complete silence in the stands as the young left-arm pacer Jason Behrendorff dismissed The Master — he was caught at deep square leg — in the last ball of the second over.
However, with Smith in his elements, the early exit of Tendulkar didn’t seem to put Mumbai Indians under pressure. Smith started his innings with a six in the first over of Michael Beer and continued his onslaught till veteran Brad Hogg had him caught off an ordinary delivery in the seventh over.
More than the ball, it was the stunning catch by Behrendorff that got rid of Smith.
Thereafter Rohit Sharma plundered runs almost at will and Kieron Pollard (23) gave him good company. The Mumbai Indians’ captain hit four sixes and three boundaries to take the wind out of Scorchers’ innings. Ambati Rayudu finished it off in style when he sent first two balls of the 14th over bowled by Ashton Agar flying into the stands.
Earlier, Perth Scorchers lost wickets at regular intervals to finish their innings at 149 for six. Openers Agar (35) and Simon Katich (13) did a good job by putting up 55 runs before Pragyan Ojha got rid of both the batsmen in the 10th over to hand over the advantage to Mumbai Indians.
Things could have been worse for them had Sam Whiteman not slammed a 32-ball 51 (2x6, 6x4) to take Scorchers to a challenging total of 149 for six.
At the start of the innings, Katich played the role of an anchor while Agar provided the firework. Having become famous for scoring 98 as a lower-order batsman in the Ashes series recently, the Australian has been playing as an opening batsman in the Champions League T20.
Agar looked solid with the bat as his 35 came in 40 deliveries with six fours. But just when Perth looked like going for a big score, spinner Pragyan Ojha struck double blows when he was introduced in the 10th over.
While Agar was the first to go, Katich was also bowled by Ojha three balls later.
The pick of the Mumbai Indians bowlers, however, was Nathan Coulter-Nile, who captured three wickets to stem Scorchers’ run flow.
In the 16th over, he first removed Hilton Cartwright (28), who put on 58 runs for the third wicket with Whiteman, and then trapped Ashton Turner leg before in the very next ball.
Harbhajan Singh, who opened the bowling, was a disappointment. In four overs, he conceded 31 runs.