Mumbai Indians are IPL kings now

Rohit Sharma & Co post 23-run victory over Chennai Super Kings to emerge champions

Mumbai Indians are IPL kings now

Lasith Malinga has been a rather passive presence in this edition of the IPL. But the pacer slipped into his zone in the final match of the tournament, setting up a 23-run win for Mumbai Indians over Chennai Super Kings at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.

The victory ensured a maiden IPL title for Mumbai. After notching up 148 for nine, Mumbai restricted the Super Kings to 125 for nine to begin a night of frenzied celebrations.

Hunting down 149 wouldn’t have been a big task for a team like Super Kings that boasts of an array of batsmen tailor-made for T20s, and they have also been arguably the finest chasers in the IPL. So, Mumbai needed a bright start to their defence, and Malinga provided just that.

The Sri Lankan fast bowler took two wickets in the first over of Super Kings’ innings, netting two big fishes – Michael Hussey, the highest scorer in the tournament, and Suresh Raina. Hussey’s dismissal was an example of the ferociousness of Malinga’s craft. A perfect yorker sent Hussey’s leg-stump for a walk, giving hardly any time for the batsman even to react.

Raina followed Hussey to the hut in the very next ball, but the dismissal revealed the meticulousness with which Mumbai approached the title clash. Knowing Raina’s weakness against short-pitched ball, Mumbai skipper placed a fielder – Dwayne Smith – at short square leg, and the ploy worked just brilliantly. Malinga’s snorter surprised Raina a bit, and his attempt to fend that away resulted only in a tame catch to Smith, and Mumbai were off to a flier. More importantly, they never let that momentum slip away, pegging Chennai back with regular strikes.

Mitchell Johnson, Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha ensured that the Super Kings would not have a moment of easiness in the middle. There was a glimmer of hope for Chennai even after they were reduced to a sorry-looking 58 for eight in the 12th over, and their skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni provided that little flicker.

Not many asking rates will be in the realm of impossible when the Jharkhand man is in the middle, and there was some of those trademark shots that reached the ropes and stands in a flash. But on this night, even Dhoni was powerless to alter the course of the match.

It indeed was a superb collective effort from the Mumbai bowlers that made it sure that the trophy would rest in the Mumbai cabinet for next one year. But Kieron Pollard’s contribution was as immense as the Mumbai bowlers.

Mohit Sharma and Albie Morkel had combined to reduce Mumbai to 16 for three, and a Super Kings romp seemed the only possibility at that stage. Dwyane Smith, Aditya Tare and Rohit walked back to the pavilion without making any significant impact, but Kieron Pollard chose the best time to come up with an innings of rare maturity and calmness.

The Trinidadian has been in the forefront of many Mumbai victories this season, especially after getting a much-needed promotion up the order. Pollard (60 n.o, 32b, 7x4, 3x6) and Ambati Rayudu did a nice repair job for the fifth wicket, adding 48 runs in 5.4 overs that gave some steam to the Mumbai innings.

There was a bit of frustration for Pollard when he was largely stranded in the non-striker’s end in the death overs. But two successive sixes off Bravo, who took four wickets, fetched him a fifty and Mumbai a defendable total.

MUMBAI INDIANS: Dwayne Smith lbw Mohit 4 (4b, 1x4), Aditya Tare b Morkel 0 (1b), Dinesh Kaarthick b Morris 21 (26b, 3x4), Rohit Sharma c&b Morkel 2 (5b), Ambati Rayudu b Bravo 37 (36b, 4x4), Kieron Pollard (not out) 60 (32b, 7x4, 3x6), Harbhajan Singh c Hussey b Bravo 14 (8b, 3x4), Rishi Dhawan (run out) 3 (3b), Mitchell Johnson c Dhoni b Bravo 1 (2b), Lasith Malinga c Dhoni b Bravo 0 (2b), Pragyan Ojha (not out) 1 (1b). Extras (LB-2, W-3) 5. Total (for 9 wkts, 20 overs) 148.

Fall of wickets: 1-4 (Smith), 2-8 (Tare), 3-16 (Rohit), 4-52 (Kaarthick), 5-100 (Rayudu), 6-125 (Harbhajan), 7-133 (Dhawan), 8-135 (Johnson), 9-135 (Ojha). Bowling: Mohit Sharma 4-0-26-1, Albie Morkel 3-0-12-2, Chris Morris 4-0-25-1 (w-1), R Ashwin 3-0-22-0 (w-1), Ravindra Jadeja 2-0-19-0, Dwayne Bravo 4-0-42-4 (w-1).

Power Play: 1-6: 34/3.

CHENNAI SUPER KINGS: Michael Hussey b Malinga 1 (2b), Murali Vijay c Rohit b Johnson 18 (20b, 2x4), Suresh Raina c Smith b Malinga 0 (1b), S Badrinath c Kaarthick b Johnson 0 (3b), Dwayne Bravo c Johnson b Dhawan 15 (16b, 3x4), Ravindra Jadeja c Pollard b Harbhajan 0 (2b), MS Dhoni (not out) 63 (45b, 3x4, 5x6), Albie Morkel b Ojha 10 (10b, 1x6), Chris Morris c Kaarthick b Harbhajan 0 (1b), R Ashwin c sub b Pollard 9 (18b), Mohit Sharma (not out) 0 (2b). Extras (LB-2, W-7) 9. Total (for 9 wkts, 20 overs) 125.

Fall of wickets: 1-2 (Hussey), 2-2 (Raina), 3-3 (Badrinath), 4-35 (Bravo), 5-36 (Jadeja), 6-39 (Vijay), 7-57 (Morkel), 8-58 (Morris), 9-99 (Ashwin). Bowling: Lasith Malinga 4-0-22-2 (w-2), Mitchell Johnson 4-0-19-2  (w-2), Pragyan Ojha 4-0-28-1, Rishi Dhawan 1-0-6-1, Harbhajan Singh 3-0-14-2, Kieron Pollard 4-0-34-1 (w-3).

Power Play: 1-6: 35/4.

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