Chennai Super Kings tasted victory in its second entry into the final — this time, holding its nerve at the ‘death' to clinch the DLF IPL3 decider against Mumbai Indian by 22 runs.
Three run-outs and three stunning catches forced the ground to shift from under the home team's feet in its pursuit of 168, and it stumbled to 146 for nine in 20 overs.
Suresh Raina's all-round show powered CSK's victory — 57 gritty runs, a running catch to dismiss Saurabh Tiwary and the wicket of Harbhajan Singh.
Kieren Pollard's dismissal — caught by Matthew Hayden, 26 runs away from victory — led to the final collapse, run-outs in quick succession ending in heartbreak for skipper Sachin Tendulkar, who took the field with a bandaged hand. CSK looked in trouble even in the 18th over when Pollard was carting the ball around. Bollinger's world turned upside down after the West Indian's assault — two towering sixes and two fours, for 22 runs.
Tendulkar (48 off 45 balls, 7x4) began the onslaught by attacking CSK's best bowler, sweeping Aswhin to fine leg and driving a full toss to extra-cover. Muralitharan and Morkel were mauled as the Orange Cap holder stepped out for forcing shots on the off-side or quickly got into position, stepping back and across for ferocious pulls.
Despite the hammering, Dhoni's faith in slow bowlers paid off as Tendulkar heaved Jakati high towards long-off for Vijay to respond with an overhead catch. CSK sensed victory when Raina pulled off a sensational catch, running in from deep mid-wicket and diving forward to catch Saurabh Tiwary. Jakati then managed to stay within the boundary on one leg to latch onto to a skier from Duminy.
Ashwin's maiden over with the new ball forced opener Shikar Dhawan into aggressive mode against Bollinger, nicking one behind to Dhoni. Nayar, who walked in at No.3, found it tough to hit the ball off the square initially. With the in-form Tiwary, Rayudu, Pollard awaiting their turn in the dugout, the responsibility was huge.
Two back-to-back sixes off Jakati came as a confidence-booster for the left-hander.
MI kept up pace at the halfway stage — it was 58 for two in 10 overs when Nayar got run out, rushing out for a risky single after a flick off his pads. Dhoni darted across and scored with a direct hit. Raina removed Harbhajan Singh, promoted up the order, with an in-cutter.
When Super Kings batted, Raina's heart for battle drove MI to despair, lifting the visitors from 67 for three to relative safety at 168 for seven with an unbeaten 35-ball 57. Once the left-hander had picked the ball to hit, execution was flawless with footwork and bat speed standing out.
MI lost the plot due to lapses in the outfield. A miscued shot by Raina dropped between Abhishek Nayar and Dilhara Fernando at third man off Zaheer. Then, Zaheer failed to even line up the ball off another skier.
Then, Raina tore into the bowling. Two sixes off Pollard, especially one hit cleanly over extra-cover after making space for the swing, was an astonishing shot for a batsman of his size and physique.
He was the dominant partner in a 72-run stand with Dhoni, that eventually proved decisive.
Earlier, Hayden's anxiety to get going resulted in some anxious moments at the beginning of the innings. After a run-out scare, Harbhajan rapped the big left-hander's pads frequently, forcing him to step out for a lofted shot over mid-on.
Vijay got into stride against Zaheer with a six into the mid-wicket stands. Malinga erred in length and faced instant punishment as the left-hander rocked back and cut past point.
Fernando's reward for pace change came in the form of Vijay's wicket, a slower one heaved high towards Tiwary, tracking the looping ball amidst the floodlights.
Chennai Super Kings: M. Vijay c Tiwary b Fernando 26 (19b, 1x4, 2x6), M. Hayden c Rayudu b Pollard 17 (31b, 1x4, 1x6), S. Raina (not out) 57 (35b, 3x4, 3x6), S. Badrinath c Malinga b Fernando 14 (11b, 2x4), M. Dhoni c Fernando b Zaheer 22 (15b, 2x4, 1x6), A. Morkel run out 15 (6b, 1x4, 1x6), S. Aniruddha (not out) 6 (3b, 1x4), Extras (lb-3, w-8) 11; Total (for five in 20 overs) 168.
Fall of wickets: 1-44, 2-47, 3-67, 4-139, 5-157.
Mumbai Indians bowling: Harbhajan 4-0-30-0, Malinga 4-0-33-0, Zaheer 4-0-34-1, Fernando 4-0-23-2, Pollard 4-0-45-1.
Mumbai Indians: S. Dhawan c Dhoni b Bollinger 0 (8b), S. Tendulkar c Vijay b Jakati 48 (45b, 7x4), A. Nayar run out 27 (26b, 1x4, 2x6), Harbhajan lbw b Raina 1 (2b), A. Rayudu run out 21 (14b, 1x4, 1x6), S. Tiwary c Raina b Jakati 0 (2b), J.P. Duminy c Jakati b Muralitharan 6 (7b), K. Pollard c Hayden b Muralitharan 27 (10b, 3x4, 2x6), Z. Khan run out 1 (3b), L. Malinga (not out) 1 (1b), D. Fernando (not out) 2 (1b), Extras (lb-1, nb-6, w-5) 12; Total (for nine in 20 overs) 146.
Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-67, 3-73, 4-99, 5-100, 6-114, 7-142, 8-142, 9-143
Chennai Super Kings bowling: Ashwin 4-1-24-0, Bollinger 4-0-31-1, Morkel 3-0-20-1, Muraltharan 4-0-17-1, Jakati 3-0-26-2, Raina 2-0-21-1.