New Delhi: Chennai Super Kings made their fifth final in six seasons when they defeated Mumbai Indians by 48 runs in Qualifier 1 of IPL 6 at the Feroz Shah Kotla Stadium on Tuesday. While the win took Chennai directly to the final on Sunday, Mumbai still have a chance left as they will play the winner of Wednesday's Eliminator between Rajasthan Royals and Sunrisers Hyderabad on Friday.
Mike Hussey (86* off 58 balls) and Suresh Raina (82* off 42) have done it so many times in the past for Chennai, and the left-handed duo did it again on Tuesday, stringing an unbroken stand of 140 for the second wicket. Chasing a mammoth 193, Mumbai were in the game until Dwayne Smith was going berserk. But after his departure, wickets fell like ninepins and they lost the contest by a huge margin.
Hussey needed just one ball to get off the mark when he caressed Mitchell Johnson's full toss through midwicket for four. Murali Vijay (23) too got going with a single off the first ball and two boundaries in the second over bowled by Munaf Patel, who was included in place of injured Dhawal Kulkarni - one of four changes Mumbai made.
Harbhajan Singh continued his brilliant form with the ball, giving away just two runs in his first over. Lasith Malinga made a faulty start, bowling a few loose deliveries and Hussey took full toll, scoring two boundaries through the off side. Hussey came down the track in the next over of Harbhajan and lofted him over the covers for another boundary.
Kieron Pollard, using a bouncer as a surprise weapon, tempted Vijay to have go and had the batsman caught at deep square leg. While Pollard did his job from one end, Munaf went for eight more in his second over, having gone for 12 in his first.
When Pragyan Ojha came for his second over, Hussey played a spree of sweep shots, with the traditional one going for two and the reverse addle going for four. Raina then exploded with one of his trademark swipe over deep midwicket for six. He came down the track again, this time going over extra cover for another maximum off Harbhajan.
Hussey brought up his sixth half-century this season with a pull off Johnson. Chennai's innings had the momentum now, with Raina's slap-bat six off Johnson over point being the latest of the big shots.
While the crowd was waiting to see MS Dhoni's brute power, the well-timed strokes by Hussey and Raina would not have disappointed them either. Raina got to his fifty with another maximum over deep midwicket and kept on plundering runs, maintaining a healthy strike-rate. The two batsmen smashed 19 off Malinga's last over to propel Chennai to a huge score.
Mumbai although lost the wicket of Aditya Tare (7) early in their chase, Dwayne punished the wayward Chennai bowling. Albie Morkel kept feeding him balls on the leg side and Smith kept hitting him for boundaries, taking 16 off bowler's third over. Mohit Sharma was equally expensive with Smith smashing him for six over long-off and then pulling him for another six.
Chris Morris was brought in to the attack and Smith smacked him for another huge six over deep midwicket. He got to his fifty off just 21 balls with his fourth six, a big one deep into the long-on stand.
Dhoni brought in R Ashwin thinking the change in pace might stop the marauding Smith, but the right-hander dispatched him for a six and four. Ravindra Jadeja provided the much-needed breakthrough, when he had Smith caught by Raina. Wickets started to tumble after that as both Dinesh Karthik (11) and Rohit Sharma (8) went in back-to-back overs.
Pollard, as expected, attacked the Chennai bowlers from the outset, but he became Jadeja's third victim, going for 24, with two sixes and a four. Mumbai kept losing wickets as Harbhajan went without troubling the scorers. The remaining too went in quick succession, offering Chennai a smooth passage to the final.