Riding on skipper Rohit Sharma's blistering half-century, Mumbai Indians cruised into the Champions League Twenty20 semifinals with a crushing
six-wicket victory over Perth Scorchers in their must-win final group match in New Delhi on Wednesday.
While Rohit bludgeoned his way to an unbeaten 51 off 24 deliveries, Dwayne Smith also played a blinder as he smashed a 25-ball 48 at the top to enable MI achieve the target with as many as 40 balls to spare.
Mumbai were required to chase the target in 14.2 overs to make it to the last-four stage of the tournament, and they did it in 13.2.
Rohit smashed three boundaries and four sixes while putting on a solid 65-run stand for the fourth wicket with Kieron Pollard (23) off just 37 balls.
Earlier, some fine bowling by Nathan Coulter-Nile and Pragyan Ojha helped Mumbai restrict the Scorchers to 149 for six at the Feroz Shah Kotla ground.
In reply, opener Smith gave Mumbai Indians a rollicking start even as veteran Sachin Tendulkar disappointed the full house once again, getting out without scoring big when he was caught at the deep square leg by Sam Whiteman off Jason Behrendorff's bowling. But that did not affect the in-form Smith, who sent the Scorchers' bowlers on a leatherhunt, smashing boundaries at will.
Though Glenn Maxwell (10 off seven balls) got out cheaply, Smith continued in the able company of Rohit. The duo put on 38 runs together for the third wicket in just 2.2 overs and took the team past fifty in only 32 balls. It was the experienced Brad Hogg, who finally got the prized wicket of dangerman Smith as Behrendorff took a brilliant catch at the boundary.
Rohit, however, was unmoved by his partner's dismissal and continued to play his shots with ease. He along with the hard-hitting Pollard made sure that Mumbai run-rate didn't drop.
Rohit and Pollard stole 14 runs off the ninth over, bowled by Hogg before the captain hit Joel Paris for two fours and a six in the next over to take 17 and help Mumbai Indians reach a commanding 117 for three at the half-way stage. Rohit brought up his half-century in 23 balls with three fours and four sixes.
Though Pollard did not stay till the end, by the time he was dismissed the damage was already done. In the end, Ambati Rayudu hit two sixes to finish it off in style.
Earlier, Sam Whiteman scored a quickfire 32-ball 51, studded with six fours and two sixes, besides putting on a crucial 34-ball 58 run stand for the third wicket with Hilton Cartwright to help Scorchers set Mumbai a 150-run target.
For MI, Coulter-Nile was the pick of the bowlers with figures of three for 19, while Ojha chipped in with two for 17. Mitchell Johnson was left out.
The Scorchers began cautiously after they were put in to bat by MI. Of the two openers, Ashton Agar was the more dominating, while skipper Simon Katich gave him good support. The two took their time to counter some tight bowling from Harbhajan Singh and Coulter-Nile. Agar patiently waited for the loose deliveries to hit boundaries before striking two consecutive fours off a Rishi Dhawan's over.
The Scorchers reached 50 in the ninth over with all wickets intact. Even though the bowlers managed to bowl a tight line and length, they failed to take wickets.
It was left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, who gave MI the breakthrough by seeing off both the opening batsmen in his very first over. After being hit for a four off the first ball of the 10th over, he knocked off the stumps of Agar before bowling Katich with the fifth ball of the over.
Agar scored a 40-ball 35 with the help of six fours, while Katich's 13 came off 19 balls. The duo shared a 55-run partnership for the opening wicket.
The two new batsmen -- Cartwright and Whiteman -- accelerated the scoring. Cartwright scored a valuable 20-ball 28 studded with four hits to the fence before Coulter-Nile, who returned for his second spell, saw him off. Whiteman, however, continued to play his strokes, hitting two fabulous sixes, even as wickets kept falling at the other end.
Photo: Rohit Sharma (BCCI)