Raina leads the way as Chennai eliminate Mumbai

Raina leads the way as Chennai eliminate Mumbai

It was the first match of this IPL season at the Brabourne Stadium, and a packed crowd ensured a wonderful atmosphere cheering almost every piece of action on a typically sultry Wednesday night.

There was no popular home victory though, as Chennai Super Kings scaled down the target of 174 set by the Mumbai Indians in clinical fashion for a seven-wicket win, knocking out the latter from the race for a final berth.

The Super Kings will now take on Kings XI Punjab in the Qualifier 2 at the Wankhede Stadium on Friday. The winner of that match will take on Kolkata Knight Riders in the title match at Bangalore on Sunday.

Mumbai made 173 for eight, and Super Kings replied with 176 for three courtesy fine knocks by Suresh Raina (54 n.o.) and David Hussey (40 n.o.). But the genesis of Chennai’s victory was in the a brisk start given by Dwayne Smith and Faf du Plessis, who was retained at the pole position despite the return of Brendon McCullum.

They milked 60 runs for the opening stand in 6.2 overs. Unlike in the past matches, du Plessis was aggressor this time purring away like a sports car right from the word go.

Smith was also not far behind as the West Indian smashed three fours in a row when pacer Jaspreet Bumrah was introduced into the attack in the sixth over, and a total of 17 runs flowed in in that over as Du Plessis added a four of his own. However, Mumbai Indians crippled Super Kings’ progress with two quick strikes.

Veteran offie Harbhajan Singh gave marching orders to both Smith and du Plessis in the space of three balls as Chennai slid to 64 for two and two overs later they were reduced to 87 for three as Pragyan Ojha had McCullum stumped by Aditya Tare.

But Raina and Hussey ensured there would not be any further hiccups, adding 89 runs off 56 balls for the unbeaten fourth wicket alliance. Just as the game drifted to a close finish, Hussey smashed Ojha for two sixes, and Raina too hammered one to squeeze out 20 runs in the 16th over and the game was over from that point.

Earlier, Mumbai couldn’t exactly exploit a fine start given to them by Mike Hussey and Simmons. They added 76 runs in 9.4 overs after taking a few minutes to measure the nature of the pitch. The home side reached 17 without loss after three overs, and 38 at the end of five, but the real turnaround came in the sixth over when Simmons carted Mohit Sharma for 16 runs in the sixth over.

That point onwards, Mumbai batted in overdrive, and the dismissal of Hussey, castled by Jadeja, didn’t slow them down as Corey Anderson slammed a 10-ball 20 to sustain the momentum.

However, the big-hitting Kiwi couldn’t convert his start into something more substantial as his attempt to power R Ashwin over the boundary ended in the hands of Ishwar Pandey.

At 99 for two after 12 overs, Mumbai were in a great position to push towards a massive total, and they appeared doing just that when Simmons and Rohit Sharma added 44 runs in a little over four overs for the third wicket, taking their side to 143 in the 17th over. With just over three overs remaining, Mumbai were looking good to post a total in the vicinity of 190.

But the departure of Simmons sparked a mini collapse for Mumbai and they lost Kieron Pollard, Rohit, Ambati Rayudu, Tare and Praveen Kumar in the space of next 21 deliveries adding 30 runs.

It certainly was not the kind of end Mumbai were hoping for, considering the batting strength of Super Kings. And the rest of the night panned precisely in that manner as Chennai produced another mighty effort with the willow.

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