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HARBHAJAN Singh has forever been the showboater. The man for the big occasion, and one who never misses out on an opportunity to play to the crowd. It’s being in the spotlight that he thrives on after all.
So it wasn’t surprising to see the veteran off-spinner irrepressibly animated following the fifth delivery of his opening over on Wednesday. As he high-fived his teammates, punched the air and broke into a little jig, the Brabourne crowd responded in kind with a raucous roar.
Harbhajan to his credit single-handedly just brought the stadium to life, long after the DJ had dished out his final tune for the night. He had done so by a dramatic double-strike, sending back both the Chennai Super Kings openers, who had till then held forth in dominating fashion putting 60 on the board in the first six overs.
At least, Dwayne Smith had looked to smash the leather off the ball, like he always does, while perishing to a skier at long-on. Faf du Plessis’s scoop that cost him his wicket was not only unwarranted it was also attempted with little intent or conviction.
But just like that Harbhajan had brought Mumbai Indians right back into a contest that was fast slipping out of their grasp. Earlier in the day, Harbhajan might well have sat with an eye on the television, harbouring hopes, however distant, of earning a much-awaited recall to the Indian team. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be.
Here at a packed Brabourne with millions watching on television, was his chance to prove a point, another penchant that he has never shied away from. For a brief while it did seem that Harbhajan was spinning an unlikely win for the defending champions. But that too wasn’t to be with Suresh Raina deciding to play spoilsport.
Raina incidentally had won a recall to the Indian team on Wednesday and that too with a cherry on top after being named captain for the three-match ODI series in Bangladesh.
And he celebrated it with a breezy half-century to see Chennai home and bring an end to Mumbai’s title-reign, one that many thought should have ended a match earlier anyway.
Once Harbhajan bowled out, his figures reading 2/27, Mumbai’s bowling attack never seemed to have the arsenal required to stall Chennai’s charge.
To boot Raina looked in irresistible form, and was ably supported by David Hussey, who kept hitting sixes whenever the required