Sachin Tendulkar slammed an unbeaten half century and Lasith Malinga claimed three wickets as the Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings by 19 runs in the opening match of the Indian Premier League.
The lucrative Twenty20 tournament is being held in South Africa because of security issues in the wake of terror attacks in Mumbai and Lahore and with Indian elections in progress. The second staging of the IPL has attracted many of the world’s leading cricketers, lured by the massive contracts on offer in the quick fire version of the game. Test record run scorer Tendulkar showed he is just as adapt in Twenty20 as his side posted 165 for seven at Newlands in Cape Town. He blasted seven boundaries in 49 balls and shared in stands of 46 in less than four overs with Abhishek Nayar and 39 with Sri Lankan ace Sanath Jayasuriya (26). England all-rounder Andrew Flintoff, playing in the tournament for the first time on a $1.5 million contract with Chennai, should have sent back Tendulkar in his first over, but Australian Matthew Hayden missed the chance at first slip off a leading edge. It proved a costly miss with Tendulkar also adding 43 with Shikhar Dhawan. Flintoff, who was hit for three successive sixes by Nayar, finally managed to claim his first IPL wicket off the penultimate ball of the innings when he had Zaheer Khan caught at wide long-off. He had better luck with the bat after being promoted up the order, plundering Dwayne Bravo for a four and a six in the same over and adding 50 in 42 balls with former Test star Hayden. But he went for a big shot against Harbhajan Singh and skied a return catch to the bowler for 24. Jayasuriya sent back Hayden (44) — caught well by Zaheer at cover — withi Jacob Oram and Subramaniam Badrinath soon following to leave Chennai struggling on 109 for six. Needing 31 of the last two overs, Chennai were frustrated by Zaheer, who conceded just six runs in the penultimate over while Malinga’s final over then also yielded six, including the wicket of captain MS Dhoni (36), as Mumbai ran out convincing winners.