What was supposed to be a tough chase for Mumbai Indians at the Brabourne Stadium against Chennai Super Kings, was transformed into a rather easy victory, thanks to yet another superlative effort by skipper Sachin Tendulkar (72) and an equally important, whirlwind 56 by his opening partner Shikhar Dhawan.
Mumbai had to score 181, in reply to Chennai’s imposing 180 for 2, and got home convincingly in the penultimate over, with five wickets in tact. The opening partnership of 92 in under nine overs was extremely crucial in the chase. The quickfire efforts of Sachin and Dhawan ensured that the required run rate was always under control. And, as such, there was no pressure on the batsmen to come.
Mumbai planned their chase extremely well. It was Dhawan who went after the bowlers at the start, while Sachin ensured that he gave the youngster ample strike. Even as Albie Morkel kept things tight at one end, Dhawan went after L Balaji, Joginder Sharma and even spinner Shadab Jakati, hitting some ferocious boundaries off their bowling as well as three huge sixes.
He never looked in any sort of trouble against any of the bowlers, which was the most striking aspect of his batting. The fact that even Sachin was content to take the back seat and watch the action unfold from the non-striker’s end said a lot about the quality of his innings. As such, Dhawan could only have got himself out.
And that is exactly what happened when he tried to go after Jakati once too often. The ball ballooned high in the air, and Chennai were lucky to have their best fielder, Suresh Raina, in position to take the catch.
Dhawan’s dismissal gave Chennai hope, though only a faint one as Mumbai were halfway past the target. Still, Muttiah Muralitharan worked his charm and trapped Saurabh Tiwary plumb in the front for 2, a rare failure for the youngster during this IPL. The door was again opened slightly by Chennai when Joginder Sharma managed to dislodge Rajagopal Sathish’s stumps.
At 120 for 3 in the 14th over, Chennai sensed they had a sniff. However, this is when Sachin stepped in and decided to seal it in Mumbai’s favour. The authoritative six he hit off Murali not only reminded one of their yesteryear duels, but also showed that Sachin was determined to prove who the boss was.
With a mixture of well-calculated strokes and some elegant drives, he brought Mumbai to the brink of victory. Kieron Pollard, who hasn’t got much of a chance to prove what he is worth, showed some glimpses, striking the ball as clean as a whistle en route to his 9-ball 20. And, though both were dismissed before the target was achieved, they had done enough to take Mumbai to safety.
The win did not look such an easy proposition earlier in the day, when Chennai recovered from 38 for 2 to post 180. Suresh Raina was the chief architect of the recovery.
The talented left-hander struck the ball with ease during his magnificent, unbeaten 83 off 52 balls. He found the perfect foil in S Badrinath, who contributed 55* from 45. Thanks to them, at the halfway stage, Chennai looked favourites. But, midway through the Mumbai innings the equation had completely changed.
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