IPL: Clinical Chennai Super Kings clinch IPL 3, pounding Mumbai Indians by 22 runs

Looking at the gumption of the Chennai Super Kings unit, the victory seemed the only possible result they were going to settle for in the finals of IPL 2010 © AFP (File Photo)

On April 25, 2010, Chennai Super Kings won the Indian Premier League (IPL) by beating Mumbai Indians convincingly. Just a couple of matches earlier Chennai were on the brink of elimination. But an inspired team effort and self-assurance ensured the silverware to the mercurial, yet consistent Chennai Super Kings. Sarang Bhalerao revisits the Chennai’s maiden trophy triumph.

At Dharamsala, Chennai Super Kings needed 16 off the final over in their last league match. Those six deliveries must have kept the booking manager on his toes. If Chennai scored 16 runs, they would head to Mumbai; else, a feeling of incompleteness, emptiness and ‘how we were so close yet so far’ would have stayed with them. Sport is cruel that way.

When Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of the best finishers of the game, flexed his muscles and pummelled Irfan Pathan in the do-or-die encounter, he was ecstatic. Chennai had got a new lifeline. The captain scripted a renaissance, albeit in the dying stages of the competiton—the most decisive phase of the IPL.

At Mumbai, Chennai steamrolled Deccan Chargers in the semi-final, and on April 25, 2010, they locked horns with Mumbai Indians— the best side of the competition thus far.

Chennai won the toss and decided to bat first. Up until the 12th over the script read like this: A slow start by Chennai was followed by Murali Vijay’s ballistic hitting albeit his partner Matthew Hayden was struggling to time the ball. The Powerplay overs yielded 40 runs. Dilhara Fernando removed Vijay with his slower delivery. Hayden fell trying to force the issue against Pollard and Subramaniam Badrinath was out trying to break free. Chennai’s score read 66 for three after 11.2 overs. Fernando almost bowled Dhoni with a lethal yorker, but the Chennai skipper survived.

At the other end, Suresh Raina was batting with positive intent. In the 15th over, Raina miscued a front-foot pull off Zaheer Khan. The ball looped in the air and landed between Fernando and Abhishek Nayar. It was a comedy of errors which proved tragic for Mumbai. Raina rubbed the salt in Mumbai’s wounds by smashing Zaheer for a boundary and six off consecutive deliveries in the same over.

Raina was given yet another lifeline when Zaheer spilled a straightforward chance at third-man. And like earlier, Raina immediately punished Mumbai for the lapse. Kieron Pollard was thwacked for a couple of sixes and all of a sudden, Chennai’s run-rate which was hovering around six runs per over by the end of 12 overs, and had reached eight runs per over mark by the end of 16 overs.

Raina (57 not out), Dhoni (22) and Albie Morkel (15) took Chennai to 168. Mumbai surely would have rued the missed opportunities. Chennai’s score was gung ho. Mumbai needed one final ‘inspiring’ effort.

Shikhar Dhawan played out a maiden over first off; he was out in the second over. Sachin Tendulkar was batting with an injured finger, but the occasion was grand. Tendulkar wanted to leave his indelible imprints in the shortest format of the game — the paddle sweep, the caress through the covers, the vintage pulls behind square leg. Victory meant so much for him and the excruciating pain in the finger was taking a backseat.

His partner Nayar took on the left-arm spinner Shahdab Jakati. Mumbai had wickets in hand. They needed 102 off the last nine overs. Now was the time to hasten, but Mumbai lost their way as Nayar went for 27.

Harbhajan Singh walked in at No 4. Did the management err by not sending in Kieron Pollard? Surely, he had the right setting to pull off that decisive ‘final’ act. Harbhajan flopped. Rayudu walked in. Still no Pollard. Tendulkar was dismissed. Still no Pollard. Saurabh Tiwary walked in; he got out. Still no Pollard. JP Duminy was dismissed much to the sly delight of Mumbai fans. Mumbai had lost a lot of ground.

When Pollard walked in, Mumbai needed 55 off three overs. The Mumbai fans – exasperated and befuddled by the tactics — were still hopeful. And when Pollard smashed Doug Bollinger for 22 runs, only one question resonated in the scarred minds: Where was Pollard all this while?

Thirty-three from two overs was still a Herculean effort. In the 19th over, Pollard could find only a single boundary. Off the final ball of the 19th over, Dhoni employed a strange field. He had mid-off and long-off almost in a straight line. The move made no sense initially. But when Pollard was caught at mid-off by Hayden, Dhoni’s streak of brilliance was appreciated. Mumbai needed 27 off the final over.

As the final six balls of the final over were being bowled, realization embarked upon cricket aficionados. The differentiators — fielding of both the teams and tactical decisions — let the game slip out of Mumbai’s grasp. Chennai kept it simple; Mumbai played the final trying out too many things which did not work.

Dhoni added yet another feather to his elusive cap. And looking at the gumption of the Chennai unit, this victory seemed the only possible result they were going to settle for.

Brief Scores:

Chennai Super Kings 168 for 5 in 20 overs ( Suresh Raina 57*, MS Dhoni 22 ; Dilhara Fernando 2 for 23 ) beat Mumbai Indians 146 for 9 in 20 overs (Sachin Tendulkar 48, Kieron Pollard 27 ; Shahdab Jakati 2 for 27 ) by 22 runs.

Man of the match: Suresh Raina