Heart-break for Chennai Super Kings as it once again loses in the final

After the heart-wrenching defeat at the hands of the same opponent in 2010, Mumbai Indians finally clinched its first IPL title in style, outplaying Chennai Super Kings by 23 runs in front of a near capacity crowd in the Pepsi IPL-VI at the Eden Gardens here on Sunday.

Chasing MI’s 148 for nine in 20 overs, CSK managed only 125 for nine in 20 overs. Skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni — 63 not out off 45 balls with three fours and five sixes — waged a lone battle as the Chennai team, plagued by off-field controversies, surrendered without a fight to lose a third time in the final, the last two in succession.

Sweet revenge

For the Mumbai outfit, which lost to CSK in the first qualifier on May 21, it was sweet revenge. It came up with a display that was as heart-warming as well as authoritative. It was also a poignant moment for two legends in the MI squad, Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, who could not play the final due to different reasons.

Tendulkar, who has won important tournaments in his fantastic career spanning nearly 24 years, now has the IPL title too in his collection.

CSK had to face the ignominy of being three for three in 1.4 overs, a pitiable situation, from which it never really recovered. More than the poor batting, it was MI’s brilliant bowling by its new ball operators, Lasith Malinga and Mitchell Johnson, which had the Chennai team on the mat early into the chase.

The Sri Lankan got rid of Orange Cap winner Michael Hussey and Suresh Raina off successive balls while Johnson removed S. Badrinath with the one that moved away.

Dwayne Bravo came in early with aggressive intentions and hit three boundaries in his 16-ball 15 before chipping a slower delivery from Rishi Dhawan to Johnson at mid-on. Ravindra Jadeja lasted only two balls to leave CSK tottering at 36 for five in 6.4 overs.

Murali Vijay, who got a reprieve on 14 when Dinesh Karthik failed to hold on to a diving effort off Dhawan, was the next to go. Johnson returned to the attack and forced Vijay to spoon a catch to Rohit Sharma.

In deep trouble

When Pragyan Ojha bowled Albie Morkel with a fuller length delivery, CSK plunged to 57 for seven and the writing was on the wall. Dhoni tried his best, but with wickets falling at the other end, could not finish the job for the Chennai team.

Earlier, Mumbai Indians had no hesitation to bat first on winning the toss as the pitch looked good for batting. The CSK new ball bowlers Mohit Sharma and Morkel dismissed Dwayne Smith, Aditya Tare and Rohit Sharma in quick succession as MI was in early trouble.

Having collapsed to 16 for three in 3.2 overs, MI recovered remarkably through aggressive knocks from Kieron Pollard (60 not out) and Ambati Rayudu (37).

After seeing an uncomfortable Dinesh Karthik depart for 21 (26b, 3x4), Rayudu was correct in his shot selection. Pollard began with a straight drive off Chris Morris and produced some explosive shots complementing Rayudu’s intelligent placing and running between the wickets.

The fifth wicket association between Rayudu and Pollard fetched the team 48 runs in 5.4 overs. The pair took the team’s score past 100 in 15 overs before Bravo uprooted Rayudu’s middle-stump with his first ball.

Harbhajan Singh, who was next, played a seven-ball 14 with three hits to the fence, all off Bravo, fell trying to up the scoring rate, but Pollard stayed on, finishing the innings with consecutives sixes of the last two deliveries.