After Hussey, Badrinath consolidate, late surge from Bravo, Dhoni proves decisive
Briefly on Wednesday, IPL's official website listed a final between Kolkata Knight Riders and Chennai Super Kings!
Whether the gaffe was an error or a middling attempt at prophecy will remain in the realm of speculation, but CSK did no harm to its chances of qualifying for the final as the day wore on.
In the eliminator at the Chinnaswamy Stadium later at night, CSK defeated Mumbai Indians by 38 runs and will now face-off against Delhi Daredevils in the second qualifier in Chennai on Friday.
Chasing the defending champion's 187 for five, Mumbai Indians mustered 149 for nine.
The initial pursuit was powered by Dwayne Smith's frenzied bat as Ben Hilfenhaus suffered two sixes that squirted from a top-edge and flew off a pull.
The opener's confidence even forced Sachin Tendulkar to sacrifice his wicket when Smith charged for a non-existent run. However, neither the maestro's martyrdom nor the Power Play yield of 54 for one counted for much as Mumbai Indians lost its way and Super Kings got back its roar.
Smith chanced his arm once too much against Shadab Jakati, and Albie Morkel scalped Rohit Sharma and Dinesh Karthik.
Worse was to follow as Mumbai Indians's saviours from its previous visit to Bangalore — Ambati Rayudu and Kieron Pollard — failed to repeat their heroics, and a full house — mostly in shades of yellow — cheered a neighbouring city's triumph.
Earlier, a 94-run third-wicket partnership between Michael Hussey and S. Badrinath, and M.S. Dhoni's (51 n.o., 20b, 6x4, 2x6) return to belligerence, revived CSK after a start that resonated with alarm bells.
A hint of moisture in the air, thanks to rain-bearing clouds that hovered close before drifting away, provided some impetus for swing and Dhawal Kulkarni also found allies in Murali Vijay and Suresh Raina.
Vijay leant into his drive, and edged to Rohit's hands at slip while Raina played on.
The early stage of the alliance between Hussey and Badrinath was a nervous medley of start-stop running between the wickets.
Urgency was embraced at the half-way stage, with a Pollard over going for 14 and Harbhajan Singh yielding 19 as Badrinath and Hussey hit a six each.
The defending champion then suffered a slump as three wickets fell for 19 runs in a span of 12 deliveries. The crowd, though, got high on its roars of ‘MSD' and the CSK skipper, a pale shadow of himself in the league phase, finally revealed his scintillating self.
James Franklin was hoisted for a six — the tournament's longest at 112m — and the helicopter shot bruised Malinga's final spell.
Dhoni's aggression was also mirrored by Dwayne Bravo as the West Indian scattered Kulkarni's last over.
The high-point was Bravo's second six that started with him moving away and then leaning forward to swat the bowler high over cover.
Bravo still managed to retain his balance and stand tall and it was a theme that also shimmered through his team-mates.
Chennai Super Kings: M. Vijay c Rohit b Kulkarni 1 (5b), M. Hussey c Kulkarni b Franklin 49 (39b, 8x4, 1x6), S. Raina b Kulkarni 0 (1b), S. Badrinath c Rohit b Pollard 47 (39b, 6x4, 1x6), M.S. Dhoni (not out) 51 (20b, 6x4, 2x6), R. Jadeja c Rohit b Kulkarni 1 (2b), D. Bravo (not out) 33 (14b, 3x4, 2x6). Extras (lb-2, w-3): 5; Total (for five wkts. in 20 overs): 187.
Fall of wickets: 1-1 (Vijay), 2-1 (Raina), 3-95 (Badrinath), 4-106 (Hussey), 5-114 (Jadeja).
Mumbai Indians bowling: Harbhajan 3-1-20-0, Kulkarni 4-0-46-3, R.P. Singh 4-0-34-0, Malinga 4-0-41-0, Pollard 3-0-26-1, Smith 1-0-6-0, Franklin 1-0-12-1.
Mumbai Indians: S. Tendulkar (run out) 11 (11b, 2x4), D. Smith c Jadeja b Jakati 38 (22b, 5x4, 2x6), Rohit c Dhoni b Morkel 14 (19b), D. Karthik c Dhoni b Morkel 6 (4b, 1x4), J. Franklin c Dhoni b Bravo 13 (13b, 1x6), A. Rayudu c Vijay b Ashwin 11 (7b, 2x4), K. Pollard c Raina b Bravo 16 (19b, 1x4, 1x6), Harbhajan c Raina b Hilfenhaus 1 (4b), L. Malinga b Jadeja 17 (16b, 1x4, 1x6), D. Kulkarni (not out) 10 (5b, 2x4), R.P. Singh (not out) 1 (1b). Extras (lb-5, w-5, nb-1): 11; Total (for nine wkts. in 20 overs): 149.
Fall of wickets: 1-47 (Tendulkar), 2-55 (Smith), 3-68 (Karthik), 4-77 (Rohit), 5-96 (Rayudu), 6-102 (Franklin), 7-103 (Harbhajan), 8-129 (Pollard), 9-148 (Malinga).
Chennai Super Kings bowling: Jakati 4-0-25-1, Hilfenhaus 4-0-45-1, Ashwin 3-0-18-1, Jadeja 2-0-15-1, Morkel 4-0-31-2, Bravo 3-0-10-2.
Man-of-the-Match: M.S. Dhoni.