Hardik Pandya Suryakumar Yadav IPL 2019
Mumbai Indians beat Chennai Super Kings in Qualifier 1 to enter IPL final (AFP Photo)

Mumbai Indians topped the IPL 2019 league stage and then got the better of Chennai Super Kings for the third time this season to enter a fifth final after beating the defending champions in Qualifier 1. They began the season on a losing note but as the league progressed began stringing together impressive victories.

Here we look at how the made it to the summit clash

A losing start

Beating MI at Wankhede is always a tough ask. Against a rechristened Delhi Capitals, they started favourites. However, they were blown away by Rishabh Pant’s blazing 27-ball 78 to lose by 37 runs.

A close call but MI open account

Captain Rohit Sharma top-scored with 48 before Hardik Pandya smashed an unbeaten 14-ball 32 to lead MI to 187/8 in Bengaluru. AB de Villiers (70*) and Virat Kohli (46) almost got RCB home before some impressive death-overs bowling led by Jasprit Bumrah gave MI six-run win.

KXIP top-order floors MI

After beating RCB, MI flew north to Mohali hoping to ride the winning momentum. A measured half-century from opener Quinton de Kock and another quickfire knock from Hardik (31 off 19) pushed MI to 176/7. However, Kings XI Punjab’s top-order came good as opener KL Rahul (71*) starred to take them home with eight deliveries to spare.

A hat-trick of wins after shaky start

Two defeats from opening three matches wasn’t ideal. Then they met fellow giants Chennai Super Kings IPL’s own El Clasico. They proceeded to dominate their fierce rivals bossing them in all the departments to register an emphatic 37-run win in front of a packed Wankhede Stadium. After batsmen, it was the turn of their bowlers to shine as they defended 136 against Sunrisers Hyderabd. Debutant fast bowler Alzarri Joseph claimed record-breaking 6/12 to bundle out SRH for 96. And they completed the hat-trick of wins by exacting revenge over KXIP in a contest where Kieron Pollard blasted 31-ball 83 in a last-ball epic.

MI fail to get past Royals

Tournament strugglers Rajasthan Royals then broke their run with a four-wicket win at Wankhede. De Kock and Hardik again starred to power them to a challenging 187/5. But RR opener Jos Buttler laid the platform with a 43-ball 89 as RR chased down the target in the final over. The surprise defeat didn’t affect them much as they completed a double over RCB with a convincing five-wicket win before beating DC at Feroz Shah Kotla. However, they failed to get past RR again and this time in Jaipur.

CSK tamed before Eden epic

Unbeatable at home, CSK welcomed high-flying MI at Chepauk with the race for playoff heating up. The Chennai track favoured spinners and CSK had mastered the conditions as was evident by their record. Their spinners did well but MI posted a competitive 155/4 thanks to Rohit’s 67. MI bowlers then put up a combined display with Malinga playing the starring role, taking 4/37 as CSK were bowled out for 109. That gave way to high-scoring affair at Eden Gardens where Kolkata Knight Riders prevailed thanks to the all-round brilliance of Andre Russell. He first fired them to 232/2 with an unbeaten 40-ball 80 before taking 2/25. However, KKR were given a mighty scare with Hardik blasting six fours and nine sixes in 34-ball 91 to almost singlehandedly lead MI to an improbable win.

MI qualify after Super-Over thriller

Sunrisers Hyderabad’s Manish Pandey hit a last-ball six to level the scores and for the second time this season, the winner was to be decided in Super Over. A superb over from Jasprit Bumrah saw SRH managing seven runs for the loss of two wickets a run-out first ball and Mohammed Nabi bowled off the fourth delivery. Rashid Khan was tasked to defend the runs but Hardik Pandya all but sealed the game with a six over long-off. MI won with three deliveries remaining to enter the playoffs. A win over KKR in their final league game ensured they topped the points table giving them two shots at making the final.

MI 3:0 CSK

MI clashed with CSK in the Qualifier 1 and maintained their psychological hold over them with yet another dominating show. The venue was Chepauk, CSK’s den. MI had beaten CSK twice. MS Dhoni opted to bat and lost his top-three batsmen inside three overs. Dhoni would combine with Ambati Rayudu to help them post a respectable 131/4. In reply, MI lost their openers cheaply. However, Suryakumar Yadav anchored their chase, combining with Ishan Kishan for an 80-run partnership that took the game away. He remained unbeaten on 71 as MI chased down the target in 18.3 overs to enter final.