Cricketing tales hang on slender threads. The opportunity appears and then disappears.
Chennai Super Kings allowed its moment to fly away. Not appealing for a caught behind when Harbhajan Singh got a delivery to dip, turn and bounce at the left-handed Evin Lewis (on 12), was a match-altering point of the contest.
Wicketkeeper Ambati Rayudu, standing in for the indisposed M.S. Dhoni, gathered the ball even as Lewis floundered. Nobody asked the umpire the question. Replays revealed a clear edge.
In an influential partnership, skipper Rohit Sharma (67) and Lewis (32) added 75 for the second wicket off 57 balls. On a demanding pitch, the match changed course.
Mumbai Indians posted a challenging 155 for four after being invited to bat. And a spiritless CSK was dismissed for 109 at Chepauk on Friday night.
First reverse at home
This is CSK’s first loss at home after seven successive wins. The host missed Dhoni’s inspirational presence.
Only M. Vijay, back at the top of the order, offered some resistance with a fighting 38; he was controversially dismissed, caught at point, when replays seemed inconclusive about the ball bouncing before Suryakumar Yadav held it.
Although fortunate to be dropped on 10 at point by debutant Anukul Roy — Lasith Malinga the bowler — Vijay batted with composure and balance, and some of his straight hitting was a lot about footwork and timing.
There was considerable purchase for the spinners from this surface. In the first half of the contest, tall left-arm spinner Mitchell Santner got the ball to turn and bounce.
The ball was gripping for the finger spinners and they were able to get more out of the pitch. Batting demanded application and footwork.
Then when Super Kings chased, left-arm spinner Krunal Pandya got some deliveries to come in with the arm, made a few others turn away.
Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah, with clever variations in pace and length, picked up wickets; so did impressive leg-spinner Rahul Chahar.
Hitman’s day out
Earlier, Rohit made batting appear easy with his languid ways. A gorgeous striker of the ball, he harnessed the pace of the new ball, coaxed the sphere through the gaps.
He has a feel for the length and his shot-making is instinctive. Rohit piloted the innings in difficult conditions, employed his feet against the spinners.
Then there was a late flourish from Hardik Pandya and Kieron Pollard — Dwayne Bravo went for 17 in the final over of the innings — and Mumbai Indians went past the 150-run mark.
That proved too tall a score even for Super Kings.