In virtually a repeat of their qualifier performance against CSK on May 19, Mumbai Indians finished the mid-tournament gear-shift with an emphatic win over the powerful Chennai Super Kings. Before the start of the title game at Kolkata’s iconic Eden Gardens on Sunday, there were raised eyebrows, when CSK skipper chose to field against a side that showed its batting acumen 5 days ago at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium. CSK had lost that match after falling 25 run short of the 187-run target. Shane Warne, a man of many seasons, expressed his thoughts on a video chat with commentators by saying that Dhoni erred by not batting first. Be that as it may, Mumbai excelled in their batting and the first-wicket stand between Lendl Simmons and Rohit Sharma was the key to the match. Later Pollard and Rayudu carried on the good work and ensured that Mumbai crossed 200. When CSK openers Dwayne Smith and Michael Hussey came out to launch the 203-run chase, the struggle began right away as the two batsmen failed to find the early thrust. After Brendon McCullum left CSK for national duty in England, the onus had fallen on Smith for launching the assault. But Smith continued with his patchy performance despite scoring his second half-century of this season. Hussey had already fallen in the fifth over and when Smith departed on the 12th, CSK still needed a bundle of runs as the asking rate kept going up. Raina’s brief knock of 28 in 19 balls was not enough and when Dhoni was bowled by Malinga, it was all over for Chennai Super Kings. Mumbai repeated their 2013 Season feat at the Eden Gardens, where they had scored their first IPL victory under Rohit Sharma against the same opponents. CSK have also won the tournament twice but their last title win had come four years ago.
Mumbai began by losing Parthiv Patel as a run-out victim to a brilliant piece of fielding by Faf du Plessis in the first over. But Lendl Simmons and Rohit Sharma wouldn’t be cowed down as they went about thrashing CSK bowlers. Simmons rode on his luck and continued with gay abandon. Rohit, on the other hand, was clinical in his onslaught. These two kept scoring and after a great power-play performance, went on to take Mumbai to 120 in the 12th over, when Rohit perished to a lofted drive. But the captain had done his job in scoring a whirlwind 26-ball 50. Mumbai lost Simmons at the same score but Pollard and Rayudu crafted another 71-run stand that ensured a 200-plus total. Mumbai ended at 202 and their batsmen had collectively belted 16 fours and 12 sixes in the innings.
A 200-plus chase is never easy for any team because the dew makes the task quite difficult. This IPL season, CSK have lost several matches batting second even against much lower targets and in some cases, where they have won, the victories came only after the batsmen were pushed to the limits. On Sunday, they began with a 10+ asking rate and had an extremely disappointing power-play performance. They lost Hussey, when the batsman played a shot into Suchith’s hand but the third umpire was required to decide that the catch had indeed been taken cleanly. Smith and Raina were involved in a 66-run second wicket partnership that kept CSK in the game for a while. Once Smith departed in the 12th over, CSK also lost Raina in the 14th and Bravo in 15th. Now CSK needed 95 runs in 33 balls with four wickets gone. Although they still had Faf du Plessis, MS Dhoni, Ravindra Jadeja and R Ashwin, the order was still quite tall. In the 16th over, Malinga took out Dhoni with a slow yorker that crashed onto his stumps after the bat-pad contact. Then Negi, du Plessis and Ashwin fell cheaply and despite some brave show from Mohit Sharma, CSK could only manage 161 in the end. Mumbai deservedly won the match by 41 runs to complete their fantastic comeback from mid-way this season.