The match was done, Kings XI Punjab were cruising to a massive win over the Mumbai Indians, or so it seemed. Harbhajan Singh, who had other ideas, started crashing every ball for a four or a six, with debutant Jagadeesha Suchith joining in the boundary-hitting party, and just like that the Wankhede Stadium had another close IPL game to enjoy.
Harbhajan (64, 24b, 5x4, 6x6) and Suchith (34, 20b, 4x4, 2x6), who put on 100 runs for the seventh wicket in six overs, eventually fell short of the target, but at least they ensured the Mumbai Indians would gain some pride from the loss and not give too much confidence to the KXIP, who were quaking in their boots as the veteran off-spinner, known for his clean hitting, pumped one ball after another for a boundary.
The Wankhede Stadium is usually the MI fortress, impenetrable to pretty much every other IPL team, but on Sunday, Kings XI barged their way through to leave the home team's top and middle order in tatters, before the Harbhajan pyrotechnics took the game to the last over.
Put into bat first, Kings XI Punjab got to 177/5 in their 20 overs, with George Bailey (61 n.o., 32b, 4x4, 3x6) picking up his highest score ever in IPL cricket, before the KXIP bowlers took over in some style, led by Mitchell Johnson, to stop the Mumbai Indians at 159/7 in their 20 overs, a little flattering due to that brilliant hitting from Harbhajan after the game was gone.
The 18-run victory looked like a possibility when Sandeep Sharma sent Rohit Sharma, who scored a tremendous unbeaten 98 in the first match last Wednesday, back to the pavilion with a peach of an in-swinger that struck the MI captain in front of the wicket.
Runs were very much at a premium for the Mumbai Indians at the start, with Sandeep (4-1-12-1) and Anureet Singh bowling really well, and the latter would also get his name on the wickets sheet in over number four, as Aditya Tare lofted one tamely to Murali Vijay in the covers.
Then came a devastating spell from Mitchell Johnson, who first had those wickets flying as Aaron Finch tried to take him on, with his figures after two overs reading a remarkable 2-1-1-1.
Corey Anderson was the fourth Mumbai Indians batsman to get out before hitting double figures, with Akshar Patel getting his man, before Ambati Rayudu (13, 19b, 2x4), the first one to get to double figures, fell to Johnson, edging one through to Wriddhiman Saha.
With the run rate at over 16 at that point, all Kieron Pollard (20, 21b, 1x4, 1x6) could do was look to take every ball for a six and that resulted in him holing out in the deep, with Harbhajan, so impressive earlier with the ball, thumping a fair few towards the end to at least give the crowd something to smile about. The India veteran took the game to the final over with MI needing 30 runs, and after smashing a four and a six to start the over, he finally fell to end an exhilarating six-over spell of batting.
Earlier, Kings XI got to that 177 mark via a rip-roaring start from Virender Sehwag (36, 19b, 6x4, 1x6) and some cracking final-overs hitting from Bailey. In between that there was not too much to smile about for the Kings XI, even if Murali Vijay (35, 29b, 6x4) again played a decent hand, with Glenn Maxwell, for the second straight game in IPL 2015, unable to get those pulses racing with his outrageous shots.
David Miller (24, 23b, 3x4) also did not look at his usual best, as Harbhajan (4-0-20-2) came back brilliantly after a poor outing against KKR, and had it not been for a ripper of an innings from the KXIP skipper, the target for MI to chase down would have been a lot smaller, which, as Harbhajan showed, could have been deadly.