JOHANNESBURG: Defending champions Mumbai Indians started their campaign on a disappointing note, losing to Lions by eight wickets, in their opening match of the Champions League Twenty20 on Sunday.
The catalysts for Lions' victory were Neil McKenzie (68 not out off 41 balls) and 19-year-old Quinton de Kock (51 not out off 33) as the duo helped the side chase the target of 158 with seven balls to spare at the New Wanderers Stadium.
Mumbai posted 157 for six after being invited to bat and then failed to find an answer for McKenzie and de Kock's joint assault that left them bruised and battered.
For the record, Mumbai had lost to Lions in the second edition of the event two years ago.
It could have been anybody's game till Dhawal Kulkarni and Mumbai skipper Harbhajan Singh were taken to the cleaners in the 16th and 17th over.
While Kulkarni conceded 17 runs, Harbhajan was smashed for 16 as Lions inched towords the target.
Kulkarni's three overs went for 37 while Harbhajan gave away 36 in his four. Pragyan Ojha was knocked for 19 in his two.
Lions lost their first wicket when Ambati Rayudu pulled off a blinder at cover, holding on to Alviro Petersen's full-blooded shot off Lasith Malinga.
Bringing himself on in the seventh over, Harbhajan was on the money straightaway as he got Ghulam Bodi to edge one to first slip where Rohit Sharma completed a good catch.
At 37 for two in the seventh over, the prospect looked gloomy for Lions. However, an unbeaten 121-run partnership for the third wicket between de Kock and McKenzie sealed the match in Lions' favour.
In Image: Mumbai Indians bowler Harbhajan Singh, right, celebrates with teammate after dismissing Highveld Lions batsman Gulam Bodi, left