Chennai: South Africa's Richard Levi scored a dazzling fifty on debut as Mumbai Indians beat defending champions Chennai Super Kings by eight wickets in the opening match of the Indian Premier League at the MA Chidambaram Stadium on Wednesday. Chasing a meagre 113 to win, the runners-up of IPL 4 got over the finish line with 19 balls to go thanks largely to the Man-of-the-Match Levi who smashed 50 off 35 balls with six fours and three sixes. His 69-run opening stand with Sachin Tendulkar, who retired hurt after scoring 16 on account of a finger injury, helped Mumbai storm to victory.
Levi, after a sluggish start, opened up in the sixth over bowled by Ravindra Jadeja, hitting two fours and a six. Two more huge sixes flew off Levi's bat as he led a 69-run opening stand in stunning manner. Levi’s dismissal was followed by the wicket of Rohit Sharma, which left Mumbai at 72 for 2. Then Tendulkar had to retire with an injury, but it had little impact on Mumbai’s chase of 113. Ambati Rayudu (18 not out) and James Franklin (25 not out) batted with composure to ensure there were no further hiccups, and Rayudu finished the match with an uppercut six off Doug Bollinger, who went for 34 runs in 23 balls. Overall, the Chennai bowlers bowled well but the target was not a challenging one on a wicket very much partial to batsmen.
The reason for defeat was a sloppy innings. From 75 for 2 Chennai looked on course for a big total, but the dismissals of Suresh Raina (36) and Dwayne Bravo in the space of three deliveries from Pragyan Ojha – on his Mumbai debut – turned the complexion of the innings. From here, CSK nosedived and were unable to hit a single boundary in the last ten overs. They weren't helped by three run-outs and the batsmen's ability to pick out well-placed fielders in the deep, and that fact that only four men reached double-figures was telling. Lasith Malinga, Ojha and the West Indian allrounder Kieron Pollard bowled superbly for the visitors to finish with two wickets apiece.
Chennai, who were defeated at home last season, will now play Deccan Chargers on April 7 at Visakhapatnam, while Mumbai face the Sourav Ganguly-led Pune Warriors India on April 6 at the Wankhede Stadium.