Mumbai Indians made all the right moves at a sweltering Chepauk on Tuesday. The bowlers operated to a plan, the captaincy was spot on, and then Suryakumar Yadav employed his feet against spin.
Credit to skipper Rohit Sharma. He blended a sense of adventure with technical nous with his changes.
He boldly introduced Rahul Chahar in the third over of the innings, and the leg-spinner prised out the in-form Faf du Plessis on the cut. Gambles such as these win matches.
MI restricted CSK to 131 for four after the host had elected to bat. Then, the Mumbai Indians, with the fleet-footed Suryakumar Yadav cutting, flicking and driving with panache for a match-winning 71 not out, cruised home.
The side from Mumbai, with its third win over CSK this season, won Qualifier 1 with six wickets to enter the IPL final. CSK will get another chance in Qualifier 2.
Suryakumar was the cynosure at the smouldering arena. He is a wristy batsman who creates scoring opportunities, whether flashing the ball through the off-side field, cutting firmly or whipping into vacant areas.
Suryakumar was dropped in 11, by a diving M. Vijay at mid-on off Deepak Chahar, and on 53, Shane Watson at slip off Ravindra Jadeja, but made the most of his luck.
On the chase, Deepak Chahar trapped the dangerous Rohit leg-before with one that straightened but despite strikes from Harbhajan and Imran Tahir, Suryakumar piloted Mumbai Indians home.
Slipping away: M.S. Dhoni once again took on the responsibility to salvage the innings for Super Kings.
Earlier, M. S. Dhoni exploded in the climactic phase of the CSK innings to lend some hope to his side.
Lasith Malinga, that mean slinger thundered in from round the wicket to cut down the angle, but Dhoni’s helicopter shot — his back-lift his short but he packs enormous power with his bat-speed and wrist — sent the ball soaring over the mid-wicket ropes. Then, Dhoni bludgeoned Malinga over the straight-field for another six. Malinga, deflated, switched to over the wicket.
Dhoni’s 29-ball 37 not out — he was caught off a Bumrah no-ball in the final over — and his unbeaten 66-run fifth wicket association with the industrious Ambati Rayudu (42 not out) enabled Chennai Super Kings set Mumbai Indians a target of 132 here in Qualifier 1.
Both, the left-handed Suresh Raina, falling to off-spinner Jayant Yadav, and Shane Watson, prised out by left-armer Krunal Pandya, perished attempting to strike against spin. CSK, struggling in Power Play again, was 32 for three after six overs.
Pumped up: Super Kings had no answers to leg-spinner Rahul Chahar’s brilliant spell.
Bag of tricks
MI played a three-pronged spin attack of Rahul Chahar, Krunal Pandya and Jayant Yadav to make the most of the surface where the ball gripped and turned. Rahul bowled beautifully. He is an improved bowler, who has added consistency and variety to his bowling. He gets natural turn and bounce because of height and high-arm action. There was a triumphant moment for Rahul under the lights when he lured a well set M. Vijay with flight and defeated the right-hander with turn to have him stumped. This was compelling bowling by a leg-spinner who normally tends to bowl flatter through the air.
After the early blows, M. Vijay, back in the eleven at the expense of Kedar Jadhav, and Rayudu kept CSK afloat with some judicious strokeplay. Vijay (26) was organised and balanced and found the gaps with sweet timing.
Mumbai Indians were smiling at the end.