Chennai Super Kings cruised into the final of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2013 with a thumping 48-run win over Mumbai Indians in the first Qualifier at the Feroz Shah Kotla.
A scintillating unbeaten 140-run partnership between southpaws Michael Hussey (86 not out off 58 balls) and Suresh Raina (82 not out off 42 balls) boosted CSK to a daunting total of 192 for one to put one foot in the summit clash, before an inspired bowling and fielding effort ensured they barged their way through.
Ravindra Jadeja and Dwayne Bravo took three wickets apiece, while Raina followed up his batting heroics with a superb running catch to banish Mumbai to the second Qualifier.
Earlier, it poured in the vicinity of the Bahadur Shah Zafar Road in the Indian capital, only they weren’t tiny raindrops that the Feroz Shah Kotla crowd had to endure, but white spheres weighing 160 grams and nine inches in diametre that were showered into the stands off the blades of Hussey and Raina.
Chennai were off to a good start after electing to bat first on a typical batting paradise at the Kotla. Mumbai opened their bowling with Mitchell Johnson and Munaf Patel, who had replaced the injured Dhawal Kulkarni in the playing eleven. The duo offered too much width to the CSK openers, Hussey and Murali Vijay, and allowed them to free their arms and go for their shots.
CSK easily reached their fifty in the seventh over, before Murali Vijay flicked Kieron Pollard straight into Dwayne Smith’s safe hands at deep mid-wicket. Out stepped Raina as two of the highest scorers this season took Chennai forward. The ball was sprayed all over the park as the Mumbai bowlers failed to get their line and length proper. On a flat track, giving even a couple of inches too many in either dimension is an unforgivable crime; Mumbai committed enough tonight to warrant a life sentence.
Hussey reached his 12th IPL half-century and sixth of the season in 40 balls soon enough, before Raina brought up 4000 runs in the tournament. As if on cue, Pollard bowled a juicy low full toss on 47 that was creamed over wide long-on for maximum to notch his fourth fifty of IPL 6. Adding salt to the wounds, Smith spilled a difficult chance at deep mid-wicket the same over. And thus, in no time, Hussey and Raina brought up their century partnership in just 60 balls.
The dynamic pair pelted 123 runs in the last 10 overs as they kept up with each other’s score and remained unbeaten till the end. A succinct summary of the innings could be derived from the bowling card, where four of the Mumbai bowlers gave more than 10 runs in an over.
MI were off to an inspiring start in their chase, with the two openers, Dwayne Smith and Aditya Tare, both cracking two elegant boundaries through the off-side in the first over bowled by Mohit Sharma. But their joy was short-lived as Tare mistimed a straight-drive off Albie Morkel and hit it straight to mid-off.
However, Smith, probably replying to critics who had disapproved of his strike-rate this season, blasted his way to a half-century quicker than you could bat an eyelid. It took just 21 deliveries which were studded with five fours and four sixes as CSK were blown apart in the Powerplay overs, which yielded 56 runs.
It definitely seemed that Smith was in the zone and it would take a miracle to dismiss him. And then right on cue, the man with the golden arm, Ravindra Jadeja, stepped in after the first timeout and got rid of the West Indian. Smith looked to smack Jadeja over deep mid-wicket, but did not time his shot properly and got the thick outside edge that was caught at cover.
Dinesh Karthik didn’t last long either as he was trapped in front by Jadeja in his next over. Even captain Rohit Sharma, one of the mainstays of Mumbai’s batting this season, holed out to long-on as MI were reduced to 101 for four. And just like that, CSK were on level terms with MI in a matter of 13 balls.
Kieron Pollard played a small cameo of 24 from 16 balls to temporarily put MI back on track, before Jadeja got his third wicket of the night with the Trinidadian flicking the left-arm spinner straight to deep square-leg. From here, there was no comeback.
CSK collected the orange (Hussey) and purple (Bravo) caps on their way to their fifth final in six years, and have given themselves a good four days to prepare for it, while the remaining three teams slug it out to face them on Sunday evening.
Chennai Super Kings 192 for 1 in 20 overs (Michael Hussey 86*, Suresh Raina 82*; Kieron Pollard 1 for 28) beat Mumbai Indians 144 in 18.4 overs (Dwayne Smith 68; Dwayne Bravo 3 for 9, Ravindra Jadeja 3 for 31) by 48 runs.