Riding on the back of a breathtaking partnership between Dwayne Smith and Brendon McCullum, the Chennai Super Kings effortlessly chased down a stiff target of 184 to hand the Mumbai Indians their fourth consecutive defeat in IPL 2015.
Faced with an asking rate of 9.20, the two CSK openers came out all guns blazing, helped their team to 90 in the first six overs, in the process bringing the required run rate down to just over a run-a-ball and deflating the morale in the MI camp. There was going to be only one winner after that; CSK cantered to a six-wicket victory with 20 balls to spare.
It was a rather timid start to the run chase, with just six being added to the scoreboard in the first over. But there was carnage for the next few overs; dot balls and singles were far and few, and the white cricket ball was at the receiving end of some powerful blows.
There was a boundary scored in each of the first ten overs. CSK raced to 50 in four overs and needed only 2.5 overs to add the next 50 runs. Dwayne Smith brought up his half-century off 22 balls, aided with seven boundaries and three sixes, while McCullum hit a few meaty blows and improvised on a couple of occasions to race to 46 off 20 balls. Both batsmen were dismissed by Harbhajan Singh in the eighth over, but not before they had added 109 runs on the board.
Faf du Plessis was cleaned up by a Lasith Malinga yorker and MS Dhoni hit one straight back to Pollard, but Suresh Raina (43 from 29 balls), in the company of Dwayne Bravo, completed the honours and took the team past the finish line in the seventeenth over.
For MI – who employed some strange tactics on the day, Harbhajan Singh picked up the wickets of the two openers, but conceded 44 runs in his four overs. Malinga and Pollard were the other wicket-takers for the home side.
Earlier in the evening, MI won the toss, opted to bat first and finished their twenty overs at 183 for 7. The hosts got off to a poor start yet again, losing three wickets in the first four overs. Ashish Nehra accounted for the dismissals of Parthiv Patel and Corey Anderson, while Ishwar Pandey dismissed Lendl Simmons (who filled in for the injured Aaron Finch).
Rohit Sharma, batting at four, asserted once again he is the best batsman in the MI ranks. At a time when the Chennai Super Kings bowlers were calling the shots, Rohit effortlessly made his way to 50 off just 31 balls.
He respected the deliveries which deserved respect, played some delightful and effortless strokes, punished the loose ones and forced his way to his 23rd IPL half-century. The 27-year old was dismissed in the 15th over, when he attempted to hit Ashish Nehra over the top, but didn’t get enough power and was caught short of the ropes at long on.
While there was application at one end – from skipper Rohit Sharma, there were fireworks at the other from Kieron Pollard. The Trinidadian didn’t waste time to get a look-in; the first ball he faced he hit straight back over the bowler’s head and deposited it into the stands.
R Ashwin and Dwayne Bravo conceded a four and a six respectively, before Jadeja was singled out for more punishment. The 14th over bowled by the left-arm spinner cost CSK 25 runs; aside from the two wides and a single, Pollard picked up three sixes and a boundary. He raced to his half-century off 21 balls, and forced his way to 64 before perishing off the penultimate delivery of the innings.