Bangalore: Mumbai Indians skipper Harbhajan Singh admitted that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s whirlwind 20-ball 51-run knock took the game away from them and praised the Chennai Super Kings for playing like the defending champions they are, in the IPL Eliminator on Wednesday.
“Obviously, we are disappointed, but [we] cannot change the result, CSK played like champions, Dhoni’s innings was the game-changer. His knock was the turning point of the match and if we had got him out earlier, the match could have gone in Mumbai Indians' favour. The crucial 50-odd runs from Dhoni's bat took the game away from us,” Harbhajan said after Mumbai Indians were knocked out of the tournament following a 38-run defeat against Chennai. “We could not do too much about his innings. In first two overs we picked up two early wickets and were in the game till the ninth over. We didn't bowl as well as we should have, we have not achieved as much as we should have."
Harbhajan also said that losing four wickets between the 7-12 overs while batting also turned out to be costly for his team. "We lost Sachin Tendulkar and Dwayne Smith in two overs. In next few overs we also lost Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik. They are core of our batting line-up and losing them in quick succession put the team under pressure." Insisting that things could have been different if Rohit had batted till the 18th over, Harbhajan said, "We didn't want to be five down in 13 overs when we were chasing 180."
A 20-ball 51 from MS Dhoni propelled the defending champions to 187 for 5 against Mumbai on Wednesday.
Chasing the stiff target of 188, Mumbai could muster only 149 for nine in their stipulated 20 overs, with opener Dwayne
Smith (38) being the top-scorer.
Chennai were 47 for two after nine overs but they amassed 140 runs off the last 11 overs to set Mumbai a stiff target. Mumbai started their chase well, but could not capitalise on the good start provided by their openers. "We didn't play good cricket, but Chennai played much better cricket than us and they won," Harbhajan said.
Asked whether decision to chase was a good ploy in a pressure match like the Eliminator, Harbhajan said Mumbai Indians focused more on winning than worrying about the outcome of the toss. "I don't think I would have done something different after winning the toss. Even if I am given a chance tomorrow I would still like to chase here because it has small boundaries and it's not difficult to get ten runs an over on the good batting track. Even Dhoni said after the toss that he would have opted to bowl first," said Harbhajan.
Winning captain Dhoni, who was also adjudged the Man of the Match for his innings, praised his team, specially S Badrinath for his contribution to the win. “We were just watching and enjoying the games when we were done with our league stage, all the results went our way. A lot of credit to Badri and [Michael] Hussey. Badri is an unsung hero, he batted very well. Later on me and [Dwayne] Bravo could do well with the bat,” he said.
Asked about his trademark helicopter shot which fetched him a massive six in a James Franklin over, Dhoni said: “The helicopter shot was because of the tennis ball cricket. I used to play from 17-18 yards and the bowlers sent down a lot of yorkers but [it is] not an easy shot to play either, [I] could end up hitting the ankles as well.”
His teammate Dwayne Bravo of West Indies, who blasted 33 off 14 balls and then scalped two wickets for 10 runs, said: “Batting with Mahi [Dhoni] makes my job easier, I know his ability to strike the ball. It wasn’t a typical Bangalore wicket. We were very pleased with it.”
Asked what he said to Kieron Pollard after dismissing him, Bravo said: “Two days ago he [Pollard] sent me a message asking me to pack my bags and go home. It was my turn today to tell him.”