Skipper Dhoni’s brilliant innings almost does it for Chennai Super Kings

The Finisher had almost closed out the game for Chennai Super Kings. Then came the decisive moment off the first ball of the final over.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s booming leg-side strike off Munaf Patel would have cleared any fielder. But, Kieron Pollard, the beanpole West Indian, plucked a sensational overhead catch at the mid-wicket fence.

The rampant Dhoni walked back and his side, requiring 12 off the next five deliveries, went down to Mumbai Indians by nine runs in an Indian Premier League humdinger at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium on Saturday.

Costly miss

Earlier, the opportunity appeared and disappeared in a flash for CSK. Pollard’s miscued drive was grassed by bowler Ravindra Jadeja and the game witnessed a change of fortunes.

On 16 then, man-of-the-match Pollard smashed a blistering 38-ball unbeaten 57. He made the play again in the final over of the match as Dhoni’s astonishing 26-ball 51 of wristy power went in vain.

MI bowlers were on target on a surface with a fair measure of carry. Murali Vijay moved far too across to the off-side to be castled by Munaf Patel.

The fiery Mitchell Johnson thundered in to prise out southpaw Suresh Raina, who was held at point.

Michael Hussey, put down in the slips by Rohit Sharma off Johnson, tried to smash Harbhajan Singh’s flighted delivery across the line to see his stumps rearranged.

Stunning catch

And ’keeper Dinesh Karthik held a stunning low catch when Dwayne Bravo nicked a teasing delivery spinning away from left-armer Pragyan Ojha.

Earlier, Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, with a truckload of runs between them, walked out. Cricket, though, does not always care for reputations and the two legends left in a hurry.

Tendulkar played across to left-arm quick Dirk Nannes and Ponting’s attempted pull off Ankit Rajpoot resulted in an edge to slip. MI was off to a disastrous start after electing to bat.

Nannes worked up pace without losing control and Rajpoot, in his debut for CSK, used his height and high-arm action to hit the deck.

Even as CSK made inroads, the dashing Karthik dazzled. Rajpoot was creamed through covers and then pulled for a six.

Rohit Sharma, put down at fine-leg off Nannes on five, did not last long. He inside-edged a sharp off-cutter from Bravo and Dhoni plucked a fine diving catch.

Karthik (37) promised more when he missed a flick off Bravo to be adjudged leg-before.

The Trinidadian battle

Bravo also gave Pollard the glare in a duel between two Trinidadians. Moments later, Pollard sent Bravo over the ropes.

MI continued to lose wickets but palm-tree hitter Pollard lifted the visiting side. His power-packed sixes off Ashwin — there was a smashing strike over covers — and Ravindra Jadeja cleared the fence with plenty to spare.

Pollard and a determined Harbhajan Singh (21 not out) raised 65 off 48 balls for the unbeaten seventh wicket to take their side to 148. That proved match-winning in the end.

Scoreboard

Mumbai Indians: Ricky Ponting c Ashwin b Rajpoot 6 (10b), Sachin Tendulkar lbw b Nannes 0 (1b), Dinesh Karthik lbw b Bravo 37 (25b, 4x4, 1x6), Rohit Sharma c Dhoni b Bravo 8 (10b, 1x4), Ambati Rayudu c Nannes b Laughlin 7 (10b), Kieron Pollard (not out) 57 (38b, 4x4, 5x6); D. Smith c Bravo b Ashwin 3 (5b), Harbhajan Singh (not out) 21 (21b, 1x4, 1x6); Extras (lb-3, w-6) 9; Total (for six wkts. in 20 overs): 148.

Fall of wickets: 1-3 (Tendulkar), 2-17 (Ponting), 3-41 (Rohit), 4-59 (Karthik), 5-75 (Rayudu), 6-83 (Smith).

Chennai Super Kings bowling: Nannes 4-0-18-1, Rajpoot 3-0-25-1, Bravo 4-0-44-2, Laughlin 3-0-25-1, Jadeja 2-0-12-0, Ashwin 4-0-21-1.

Chennai Super Kings: Michael Hussey b Harbhajan 20 (23b, 3x4), Murali Vijay b Munaf 5 (8b), Suresh Raina c Ponting b Johnson 10 (7b, 1x4), Dwayne Bravo c Karthik b Ojha 10 (17b), S. Badrinath lbw b Ojha 16 (16b, 1x4), Mahendra Singh Dhoni c Pollard b Munaf 51 (26b, 5x4, 3x6), Ravindra Jadeja b Munaf 16 (11b, 1x4, 1x6), Ravichandran Ashwin c Pollard b Harbhajan 2 (5b), Ben Laughlin b Pollard 0 (1b), Ankit Rajpoot (not out) 2 (6b), Dirk Nannes (not out) 0 (0b); Extras (lb-1, w-6): 7; Total (for nine wkts. in 20 overs): 139.

Fall of wickets: 1-10 (Vijay), 2-30 (Raina), 3-42 (Hussey), 4-48 (Bravo), 5-66 (Badrinath), 6-97 (Jadeja), 7-108 (Harbhajan), 8-126 (Laughlin), 9-137 (Dhoni).

Mumbai Indians bowling: Johnson 4-0-22-1, Munaf 4-0-29-3, Harbhajan 4-0-31-2, Ojha 4-0-16-2, Pollard 4-0-40-1.

Man-of-the-match: Pollard.

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