Mumbai: In was always going to need something dramatic to stop Chennai Super Kings' seven-match winning streak (the joint-best in the history of IPL) and Mumbai Indians benefited from an absolutely shambolic batting effort from the visitors to win by a humungous 60 runs at the Wankhede Stadium on Sunday. Victory ensured Mumbai remained in touch of the IPL 6 play-offs with the other three contenders, while CSK have two days to review an abject batting display with the security of their progression already attained.
Seeking the two points needed to extend their winning run at home, Mumbai were lifted by their bowlers after a late rally from Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan Singh got them to 139. This despite Kieron Pollard dropping Michael Hussey three times in three balls during the opening over of CSK's chase, which was snuffed out for 79 in 15.2 overs.
A hat-trick of drops from a fielder as reliable as Pollard was not what anyone in their wildest dreams would have envisioned, especially with Mumbai defending a low total. But that's what happened at point off Mitchell Johnson: the first time Hussey cut, Pollard tipped the ball over his head, the second ball he spilled a simple chance into his midriff and the third was even straighter but Pollard cupped it in front of his face and let it out.
Chasing a target of 140 at the Wankhede Stadium, Chennai were bowled out for 79 to lose by a whopping 60 runs.
That absurd over was followed by a spectacular second from Johnson. Off the full first ball, Murali Vijay inside-edged a loose drive onto his stumps; next, after briefly leaving the field to attend to a bleeding nose as a result of the fumbled third drop, Pollard plucked a stunner to get Suresh Raina first ball after the batsman got a leading edge in front of point; and on the fifth, a straighter one had S Badrinath lbw for 0. Johnson could scarcely believe he had figures of 3 for 6 after seeing a hat-trick of catches go down earlier.
A fourth jolt followed when a trigger-happy Dwayne Bravo (9) was well aught by Ambati Rayudu at extra cover to give the debutant Pawan Suyal a wicket and left CSK at 18 for 4. That became 34 for 5 when R Ashwin (2) made room to dab Harbhajan but had his leg stump knocked back, leaving half the team out before seven overs were bowled.
Hussey got as far as 22 before he pulled Pragyan Ojha to long-on first ball after the strategic time-out, and when MS Dhoni (10) picked out Pollard off the same bowler the chase was well and truly snuffed out. Lasith Malinga foxed out two wickets in one over and the end came when Jadeja slogged Ojha high into the air.
This dramatic collapse from the two-time IPL winners meant that the Rohit-Harbhajan alliance of 57 in 29 balls had been massive for Mumbai, who were let down by a sorry top-order batting performance on a hard batting deck. Once again Dwayne Smith and Sachin Tendulkar were unable to make a strong start as they failed to cash in on the fielding restrictions, with a much disciplined CSK bowling attack allowing 24 dot balls in the Powerplay.
Their opening stand of 40 needed 40 balls which put pressure on the rest of the batsmen to accelerate. Tendulkar (15 off 18 balls) was lbw to Ravindra Jadeja when playing across his pads and in the next over Smith (22) top-edged a skier which Bravo held off his own bowling. Pollard walked in at No. 4 and lofted his third ball to Raina at long-on to give Jadeja another wicket, and Dinesh Karthik swung Jadeja for 4, 6, 4 in consecutive deliveries but then got carried away and slog-swept g the next ball out to Raina. After 12 overs, Mumbai were 66 for 4 and Jadeja had figures of 3 for 29.
Rayudu's dismissal, missing a slog at a short ball from Ashwin off the first ball of the 16th over, prompted the second strategic break. A late flurry of boundaries from Sharma (39*) and Harbhajan (25*) took the score past 100 and a 19-run last over from Ben Laughlin allowed the bowlers a total to work with. That they did, and how.